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01 Oct 2009 |

Bob Collins
Bob Collins, former director general of RTÉ, has been chosen as the chairman of the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

The BAI is to take over the functions of the previous Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, as well as the functions of the RTÉ Authority and the board of Teilifís na Gaeilge (TG4). The Authority will comprise nine members. Five members have been appointed by Government on the nomination of the Minister and a further four will be appointed following the nomination of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

The term of the BCI board ended last December, but the board remained in place until now due to delays in the passage of the Broadcasting Bill 2008 through the Oireachtas. It became law last July.

Bob Collins, who is currently chairman of the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland, was one of five people appointed to the authority by Minister for Communications, Eamon Ryan, when he officially announced the establishment of the BAI yesterday, Wednesday September 30th, which also saw the BAI board appointment of Irish Times columnist and BCI board member, John Waters, culture change consultant and Downey Youell Associates partner, Paula Downing, solicitor and former representative of Northern Ireland on the UK’s Independent Television Commission, Dr. Maria Moloney, and Michelle McShortall, a lead designer with e-learning company Intuition.

The four remaining board members of the new authority will be chosen by the Oireachtas committee for communications within the next three months, although Eamon Ryan will have the final say on all committee selections.

The chairman of the committee, MJ Nolan, said it would advertise soon for expressions of interest from the public to sit on the BAI. A shortlist would then be drawn up and potential candidates would be interviewed in public by the committee, the first time such a method has been used. New members of the RTÉ Authority and the board of TG4 would be selected by the same procedure.

One of the first tasks of the new authority will be to draw up new rules governing the advertising of junk foods on television. A new code to govern religious advertising is also planned. In addition to the Authority, the BAI will also comprise two separate and independent committees – a Contract Awards Committee and a Compliance Committee.

Announcing the new Authority, Minister Ryan said, “This new Authority will take on a great task in the regulation of a creative industry. Broadcasting works best where standards apply. The new Authority will seek and uphold the highest standards, enhancing trust among viewers and listeners. The airwaves are a public good and as such must be overseen with the public interest firmly to the fore.

I thank the Authority members for their willingness to serve and wish them well in the challenges ahead. I look forward to the nominees of the Joint Oireachtas Committee and believe this innovation in appointments gives them right and real power in populating our state boards.”

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