RTE show generates 330 emails and letters to regulator
Regulator will consider complaints about apology but not RTÉ ‘operational decisions’
Saturday Nighty Show presenter, Brendan O’Connor who apologised for any “upset or distress caused to individuals named or identified”.
The edition of the Saturday Night Show in which presenter Brendan O’Connor apologised to John Waters, Breda O’Brien and some members of the Iona Institute has been the subject of 330 emails and letters to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
Complaints about the RTÉ programme, which was broadcast on January 25th, relate to four main elements, the regulator says.
These are: the apology in relation to comments made during the January 11th edition; reports of RTÉ’s payment of compensation in respect of the comments; the re-editing of the original programme on the RTÉ Player; and reference to the role of Waters as a member of the Authority. Waters, a columnist for The Irish Times, resigned from the BAI on January 23rd.
The regulator has written to complainants to say the only element of the complaints that it can address is the statement read out by O’Connor.
“The other issues relate to operational decisions made by RTÉ or relate to content held online. In both cases, the BAI has no regulatory role and these are matters for RTÉ and its board of management.”
The regulator will consider complaints about the apology statement from viewers who believe it infringed the requirements of the Broadcasting Act or the BAI’s codes.
In the statement, the presenter apologised for any “upset or distress caused to individuals named or identified” following comments made by his guest, Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss, about homophobia in Irish society.
The regulator has reminded complainants that they must first submit a complaint to RTÉ. This should be done within 30 days of the date on which the programme was aired. RTÉ has 20 working days in which to respond. Complainants who are not satisfied with the response of the broadcaster or who do not receive one within the timeframe may then refer their complaint to the BAI, and are asked to do so within 14 days.
The BAI says it has not to date received any complaints about the original January 11th programme on which O’Neill appeared, but a spokesman added that this may be because anyone with a grievance may have complained to RTÉ initially and may be waiting for its response.
RTÉ said yesterday that it has received 1,432 complaints in relation to the January 25th programme in which the apology was read out.
An average of 496,000 viewers watched last weekend’s Saturday Night Show, which featured a follow-up panel segment on homophobia, as well as an interview with two members of Russian feminist protest band Pussy Riot. This was 35 per cent of the total audience watching television at the time.