RTÉ refuses to air Newstalk ads that 'breach guidelines'


DISPUTE:A DISPUTE broke out yesterday between RTÉ and independent national radio station Newstalk over the State broadcaster’s refusal to air a television advert promoting the election coverage of its Denis O’Brien-owned rival.

RTÉ told Newstalk yesterday that an ad promoting the station’s coverage of the general election fell foul of its compliance guidelines.

The ads, which were due to start running today, included the lines: “Find out first on Newstalk” and “Get the Truth without the State-run spin . . . Only on Newstalk”.

Newstalk chief executive Frank Cronin said it had planned to spend €195,000 with RTÉ on the ads. The station has secured advertising slots with independent broadcaster TV3, Sky, Setanta and some digital UK channels.

“I can’t see why they have done this. We’ve had to divert money to Sky and other UK channels, which is a shame,” he said. He denied the slogans were a dig at RTÉ.

A spokesman for RTÉ said the script submitted yesterday differed from an earlier script approved by a copy clearance committee at Montrose.

“We agreed a script with Newstalk and the finished ad was in breach of that agreement,” he said.

It is understood Newstalk’s original script had the lines “Find out on Newstalk” and “Get the truth without the political spin”. The spokesman said RTÉ takes advertisements from rivals including Today FM and 98FM (both owned by Mr O’Brien).

“We have absolutely no problem in doing business with people who are also competitors with us . . . But we have a set of guidelines for acceptance of advertising copy and the copy that came from Newstalk breached those guidelines,” he said.