RTÉ wants to publish full debate document
RTÉ has said it wants to publish a working document submitted to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) compliance committee as part of the broadcaster’s review of the Frontline presidential debate programme of October 2011.
This follows the publication last Sunday of RTÉ’s internal report on the programme, which dealt with issues other than the bogus tweet.
The broadcaster’s announcement yesterday came in response to a call from the BAI compliance committee to also publish the working document.
The committee said the working document indicated that the failings of the programme “were more significant than has been identified by RTÉ in the published report”.
RTÉ’s internal report found mistakes had been made on the programme in addition to and separate from the bogus tweeted message that caused problems for the then front-runner candidate, Seán Gallagher.
Complaints about the tweet, which involved allegations about fundraising for Fianna Fáil, were upheld by the authority’s compliance committee.
The publication of the working document “would provide additional insights into the editorial failings” on the programme, said the committee. It “would provide greater understanding of these failings, would support the principle of transparency and would be in the public interest”, it added.
RTÉ published the internal report last weekend following disclosures in the Sunday Business Post newspaper that day.
The BAI committee also said it would not be seeking a statutory investigation of the Frontline programme. Another investigation “would not add sufficiently to what has been learned to date so as to justify its instigation”, it said.
In its response yesterday, RTÉ said its “report as published on Sunday is an accurate representation of the editorial failings as identified in the working document”.
‘Privacy and confidentiality’
Participants “in the review took part on a confidential basis so as to ensure full and frank participation”. RTÉ, it said, “is, as is the case generally, bound by obligations regarding the privacy and confidentiality of the contributors. RTÉ wants to publish the working document and is contacting each individual concerned.”
The BAI compliance committee considered both the working document and the internal RTÉ report at a meeting last Tuesday and yesterday said it had concluded “that the production of this programme fell significantly short of the standards expected by the public of Irish broadcasters”.
It said “the report, the working document and the earlier findings of the BAI’s compliance committee highlight the serious and significant editorial failings that took place during a television debate of utmost public importance and interest”.
In the committee’s view “these failings related to the fundamentals of journalistic practice” and could, in its opinion, “have been avoided had the broadcaster applied established good practice in the conduct of a news and current affairs debate to the standard required for a presidential election”.