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British Broadcasting Corporation

Breakfast News, BBC1
5 January 2000 & BBC Radio

Following a news report on the 5th January 2000 by the British Broadcasting Corporatation about Irish Poteen, the brand owners of Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen felt the need to lodge a formal complaint to the BBC.

Counsel for the complainant was Mr Chris Hutchings formerly of Messrs. Charles Russell, 8-10 New Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1RS.

The BBC's Complaints Unit upheld the formal complaint against the BBC and ruled that there had been a 'serious breach of broadcasting standards' and a correction should be broadcast.

The BBC's agreed settlement, included the payment in full of all legal costs incurred by the complainant. A further term of the settlement was that the apology broadcast by the BBC on television and radio was to be made at approximately the same time of day as the original transmission, and not as is usual, merely at the end of the programmes.

The following is an extract from the BBC's web-site. The original publication has now been withdrawn from the BBC's web-site.

SUMMARY OF COMPLAINTS UPHELD

The complaint:

The owner of a brand of poteen ("Knockeen Hills") complained that a news item reporting the launch of another brand had wrongly suggested that the distilling and sale of this traditional Irish spirit was only now about to become legal in the Republic of Ireland.

Finding:

In fact the manufacture of poteen for sale in the Republic of Ireland had been permitted since 1997, and production for export had been legal for over ten years. "The item's inaccuracy in this respect reflected unfairly on Knockeen Hills".

Further action:

The programme makers were ordered to and agreed to broadcast a correction.

Following this, a formal correction was broadcast on BBC's Television's 'Breakfast News' and the BBC's Radio programme 'BBC TODAY'.

Extract from the following BBC URL, though now removed by the BBC

BBC PCU Header Jan 2000

2. Breakfast News, BBC1, 5 January 2000

The complaint:

The owner of a brand of poteen ("Knockeen Hills") complained that a news item reporting the launch of another brand had wrongly suggested that the distilling and sale of this traditional Irish spirit was only now about to become legal in the Republic of Ireland.

Finding:

In fact the manufacture of poteen for sale in the Republic of Ireland had been permitted since 1997, and production for export had been legal for over ten years. The item's inaccuracy in this respect reflected unfairly on "Knockeen Hills".

Further action:

The programme agreed to broadcast a correction.