Ireland: Civil society holds national broadcaster accountable

Gender and broadcasting standards

The  Transgender Equality Network Ireland  (TENI) reacted swiftly to the negative portrayal of  a transgender woman character 'Nuala' in a new sitcom “The Centre” launched on March 24, 2014 by  Irish national broadcaster RTÉ.

The comedy documenting daily life in a local housing estate targets a range of  minority groups such as transgender people, muslims and Travellers, groups that experience discrimination in Irish society.

TENI encouraged viewers to make complaints directly to RTÉ, writing on their website: “Nuala's gender identity is referenced and mocked on every occasion she appears on screen... At no point is the audience laughing with Nuala, they are laughing at her."

RTÉ is required to abide by The Code of Programme Standards issued by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. By airing “The Centre”, RTÉ flouts clause 3.4.2. of the code, that “Program material shall not support or condone discrimination against any person or section of the community, in particular on the basis of age, gender, marital status, membership of the Traveller community, family status, sexual orientation, disability, race or religion.”

TENI supported its call to audiences to hold RTÉ accountable with statistics from research on the effects of negative media portrayal on the mental health and psychological wellbeing of trans people. Further, negative portrayal contributes to marginalization of the trans community and to continued transphobia.

Irish Internet News publication The Journal revealed that RTÉ had received 24 complaints concerning “the Centre” by the morning after the show's first broadcast.

Read TENI's call to audiences here.

A resource for journalists: Media reference guide - Transgender glossary of terms 

 

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Advancing gender equality in media

In my opinion, the most effective strategy to achieve gender-sensitive media is:

Increased gender-awareness training of media professionals
Greater action by audiences to hold their media accountable
Stricter enforcement of gender-focussed media codes and policies
More female journalists, editors and media house managers

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