The Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth, complained to Classic Hits FM in relation to offensive comments made during The Niall Boylan Show, broadcast on 15 October 2019 at about 12:15pm.
The presenter, Niall Boylan, was hosting his lunch-time phone-in show that invited listeners to comment on the topic of discussion for that day: “Is it appropriate to bring a child to a funeral?”
The presenter reflected on his personal experience of bringing his own children to a Funeral Mass some years ago. Mr Boylan advised listeners that this experience included the congregation reciting decades of the Rosary prayer. The presenter stated on-air that this ritual was “almost satanic”. The overall tone of the programme was negative and disrespectful towards the celebration of the Funeral Mass.
Classic Hits FM rejected the initial complaint on the grounds that Niall Boylan was merely sharing his own personal experience of a particular funeral, and that he felt this experience was “almost satanic”.
Subsequently the CCO appealed this decision by the radio station to the broadcasting regulator, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The appeal was taken under Section 48(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 2009, relating to harm and offence.
However, the BAI rejected the CCO complaint in favour of Classic Hits FM. The BAI stated:
“…the comments made by the presenter were in the context of a personal experience he had when bringing his children to a funeral mass…these comments were clearly presented as personal views and, considering the type of programme and the presenter’s style, audiences were likely to expect comments of this nature to be made during the programme.”
In reaction Martin Long, the director of the Catholic Communications Office, said, “it is very disappointing when media agendas succeed in trampling over and insulting faith practice. A truly pluralist society ought to respect deeply held religious rituals like the celebration of Mass, and an important prayer such as the Rosary. This decision by the Broadcasting Authority will not, however, deter the CCO from continuing to challenge inaccurate, unfair and offensive media coverage relating to the Catholic Church.”