It is “not fair” to call JK Rowling a “transphobic bigot”, a broadcasting regulator has ruled.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), has sided with a complaint made against the remark.

It was said on Today FM in September 2020.

This is the first time in three years that the BAI has upheld a listener complaint.

It was during The Last Word with Matt Cooper show that Rowling was called “a transphobic bigot”. The comment came after the famous author was criticised online, because she had expressed her disapproval that an article used the phrase “people who menstruate.”

Many celebrities and stars of the Harry Potter film series criticised Rowling’s comments as being “anti-trans”.

Her critics argued that non-binary, transgender and non-gender conforming individuals can also menstruate.

Rowling wrote: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

RTE reports the complaint insisted there was no “evidence” to “back up” the claim that Rowling is “transphobic”.

Complaint

The complainant also accused the presenters of failing to challenge the statement.

They also said that this was” a very serious accusation” and that the segment of the show lacked balance, impartiality or objectivity.

Therfore, the authority’s Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs was broken when they failed to do so.

Also, the broadcaster said the panel was initially discussing tweets made by Jedward, where they criticised several celebrities for comments they had made about Covid-19 and being anti-mask.

The panel then moved on to the fact that Jedward had tweeted about JK Rowling.

Jedward had tweeted about her comments regarding transgender people. This led to the comments about JK Rowling.

However, despite this, bosses at Today FM have defended the segment, because they call it a “lively miscellany in which opinions are encouraged”, instead of a news or a current affairs piece.

Plus they also said if there been an item solely debating transgender issues, it would have included guests to represent both sides.

BAI statement

“The code requires that current affairs content is fair to all interests concerned and that the broadcast matter is presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcaster’s own views,” it said.

“During this discussion, a panel member gave a brief overview of some events which are the basis for public accusations of transphobia.”

“The panel member also stated that JK Rowling has become a ‘transphobic bigot’.

“While the principle of fairness does not require that all possible opinions on a topic are explored, or that artificial balance is achieved, the committee noted that the nature of current affairs coverage is such that the presenter plays a critical role in challenging the views of guests and contributors, in the public interest.”

In addition: “The committee had regard for the fact that, in this instance, the presenter did not challenge the panel member or facilitate the exploration of alternative viewpoints.

“The principle of fairness requires that the approach to covering issues should be equitable and proportionate.

Finally: “The committee was of the view that, given the seriousness of the statements made by the panel member, and the lack of challenge by the presenter, the broadcast was not fair. As such, the Committee upheld this complaint.”

Do you agree with their decision?

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