Irish broadcasting legislation on religious advertising is to be relaxed to avoid embarrassment over bans on promotions for first holy
communion presents and cribs.
Eamon Ryan, the communications minister, plans to allow organisations such as Veritas, a religious bookshop, to advertise on radio. The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), which polices the independent-radio sector, has banned a series of planned
Veritas advertising campaigns in recent years.
Government sources say Ryan is keen to retain provisions of the existing law that prevent churches or quasi-religious groups from using the airwaves to recruit members. But he will introduce legal changes when the broadcasting bill comes back to the Dail
at report stage this month to ensure proportionality in applying the law.
If the Oireachtas adopts the changes, the minister will direct the BCI and its successor, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), to accommodate the spirit of the change in a new code of practice on advertising.
At Christmas, Veritas was refused permission for an ad on RTE and four local stations for different and thoughtful gifts, which included books for children.
Veritas says it has held constructive discussions with officials from the department of communications about the ban in recent weeks. A spokeswoman said: In these difficult commercial times, we need to advertise all the more, so any change in
this area would be welcome.