RTÉ defends stance on covering candidates


LEGAL CHALLENGE:RTÉ HAS defended its election coverage in the face of criticism of its treatment of Independent candidates by a Dublin city councillor.

Cieran Perry, who is standing as an Independent in Dublin Central, says he is planning a legal challenge to the State broadcaster’s policy on election coverage.

Mr Perry has accused RTÉ of breaching the principle of fairness established in court judgments on election coverage because it treats some candidates as “also-rans”.

Because RTÉ presents such candidates as having no chance of success, voters opt for other candidates in order to maximise their voting influence, he claims. “It is a self-fulfilling prophesy and an interference in the democratic process,” he said. “It denies voters the right to a free and fair choice and the right to make up their own minds without undue influence by organs of the State.”

However, RTÉ says that with over 200 Independent candidates standing in the election it is not possible for the station to give attention to all of them.

According to Peter Feeney, secretary of RTÉ’s election steering group, Independents and representatives of parties not represented in the Dáil are treated on a constituency basis rather than nationally. Previous electoral performance is also taken into account. He said RTÉ has given adequate coverage to Dublin Central and the candidates running. While it has not featured all the candidates, this is not possible, he said.