"New guidelines for Irish media to cover the Lisbon Treaty referendum take effect at noon Friday (7 August).Fairness, democracy, equality; just three words that seem to be alien to the EU.
Announced by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), the new guidelines clarify that there is no requirement to allocate an absolute equality of airtime to opposing sides of the referendum debate during editorial coverage.
The proportion of airtime allocated to opposing sides must however "be fair to all interests and undertaken in a transparent manner."
The Irish are to vote on the Lisbon treaty for a second time on 2 October, after a majority rejected the document in a referendum 12 June 2008.
In previous referendum campaigns public broadcasters were obliged to give equal coverage of both the Yes and the No campaigns, after a former professor at Trinity College, Anthony Coughlan, made a complaint at Irish courts in June 1997 over unbalanced media coverage by the public broadcaster RTE, which gave 42,5 minutes coverage to the yes-camp and 10 minutes to the no-camp in a referendum on divorce."
Thanks to Mr Eugenides for the spot.
I read in this week's Spectator a review by Graham Stewart of Giles MacDonogh's book "1938: Hitler's Gamble" and this piece seemed apposite:
"Even the proposed plebiscite was scarcely fair - the ballot slips only had ja printed on them. Austrians wanting merger with Germany would have had to bring their own nein scrawled scraps of paper to the polling station."Another idea for the democrats in the Irish and EU governments.