RTÉ Nightlive sketches deemed 'in poor taste'

 

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) today upheld complaints from viewers that a spoof RTÉ news show poked fun at children dying of leukaemia and a wheelchair-bound boy wearing an oxygen mask.

The complaints were one of only two upheld out of a total of 20 adjudicated upon by the BCC in February.

Viewers claimed that two sketches on the late-night satire Nightlivewere “sick, utterly offensive and breached all sense of decency”.

“Imagine what it is like for the families of terminally ill children in Temple Street and Crumlin Children’s hospitals,” one angry viewer asked, in a letter to the BCC.

In a sketch about a celebrity charity appeal, Nightlivepresenter ‘Trevor Corcoran’ tells the cameras that his nephew died of leukaemia ten years before. “He never got a chance to see me drive Formula Ford at Mondello or caddy for me at Castleknock’s new golf course.”

Another viewer complained about a scene which shows a wheelchair-bound young boy with an oxygen mask and hooked up to a drip. The ‘weatherman’ repeatedly tells the boy to utter a catchphrase but he can only stutter and cough.

The BCC said the humour was in poor taste and was likely to cause undue offence. It said that RTÉ did not exercise due care and the manner and content of the sketch were not appropriate or justifiable.

The BCC agreed the sketch about children with leukaemia was likely to be offensive to a vast number of viewers.

“Such treatment of a child’s death is inappropriate and the manner and context of a child’s death went beyond acceptable standards,” it said. “The Commission was of the view that the humour was in poor taste and that it was likely to cause undue offence.

“The broadcaster did not exercise due care and the manner and content of the sketch were not appropriate or justifiable.”

The complaint was upheld in part with regard to the Code of Programme Standards, 2.1 general community standards & 2.2 on due care.

RTÉ defended Nightliveas a comedy programme which parodies a fictitious news programme and insisted that the joke was really on the shallow, self-centred presenters.

RTÉ said it regretted that this joke offended viewers and added there was no intention to make humour at the expense of the sick child.

In another complaint, BCC said it found that the humorous content of a Nightlivesketch on motorsport drivers ‘having a death wish’ was reasonable.

“The BCC could not agree with the submission of the complainant that it was an inappropriate joke about suicide and/or the degradation of road racers,” it said. “On viewing the piece, the Commission was of the opinion that it dealt with the risk-taking aspect of participating in the Isle of Man TT road race in a sarcastic and humorous manner.”