Full text of RTÉ response to BAI findings


Full text of the response by RTÉ director general Noel Curran to the BAI finding on the Frontline complaint: 

RTÉ director general Noel Curran today expressed the organisation’s regret at the failures identified by the broadcasting regulator in The Frontline live Presidential Election debate programme of 24th October last.

Mr Curran was responding to the decision by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to uphold the complaints taken by Mr Sean Gallagher and others against RTÉ arising from the debate broadcast. He said that RTÉ would abide by the BAI’s decision and carry out the required steps in broadcasting its decisions.

The Director General said it was a matter of importance that the BAI also stated today that, contrary to Mr Gallagher’s view, “there was no evidence... that the broadcaster, presenter or production team deliberately concealed information regarding tweets or constructed the programme in a manner that lacked objectivity or impartiality.”

RTÉ also noted that it was the BAI’s view “that there was no evidence that would lead one to question the bona fides of the programme presenter or the production team in its approach in the programmes that were the subject of the complaints.”

Mr Curran said in respect of The Frontline: “We acknowledge that we made mistakes in the course of this programme; we should have verified the origin of the tweet, and should have broadcast the fact that its provenance was in question. I apologise to Mr Gallagher on behalf of RTÉ regarding these mistakes.”

“RTÉ’s role as a trusted provider of News and Current Affairs is core to our public purpose. Any failure or shortcoming which could reduce that trust around major national events must be regarded seriously and we must address all issues which arise for us in respect of mistakes made.”

Mr Curran confirmed that a new set of RTÉ Programme Makers’ Guidelines, currently being finalised, will reinforce protocols around authentication of social media and other inputs offered to programmes. He said: “All media are adapting to social media and it is now a feature of live programmes throughout broadcasting. However the need to remain vigilant and accurate is all the more urgent given the proliferation of information sources. We are adapting our policy and guidelines to ensure this.”

The Director General said that notwithstanding today’s decision, RTÉ’s News and Current Affairs staff were entitled to be proud of the quality and range of Election programming provided across the Presidential election campaign and the General Election campaign earlier last year. “We must recognise errors where errors have been made. We also recognise the commitment to fairness of our staff and presenters across our entire range of output.”