RTÉ's Frontline criticised for failings

 

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has called on RTÉ to publish the working document on which it based an internal report on the Frontline presidential debate programme broadcast in October last year.

The working document indicated "that the editorial failings of the programme were more significant than has been identified by RTÉ in the published report," it said.

It has also announced that a statutory investigation was not warranted where the programme was concerned.

The internal report was prepared at RTÉ following the broadcaster's editorial review of the Frontline programme. It was published by RTÉ last Sunday after details appeared in the Sunday Business Post newspaper.

At its meeting on Tuesday of this week the BAI's compliance committee considered this internal report and related material provided to it by RTÉ.

In a statement today the committee said 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."

It was the committee's view "that 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."

It welcomed the decision of RTÉ "following a request from the committee, to publish its report into this programme". However it "now asks that RTÉ release the working document upon which the report was based and which includes the comments from those who were interviewed as part of the review, as well as other additional information," it said.

It was the committee's view that these comments "would provide additional insights into the editorial failings." Publication of the working document "would provide greater understanding of these failings, would support the principle of transparency and would be in the public interest."

The committee decided that a statutory investigation was "not warranted in respect of this programme." It referred to its investigation which upheld complaints about the use of an unverified tweet in the programme and the report into the Prime Time Investigates Mission to Prey programme which it had instigated.

"On foot of both reports, RTÉ has reviewed and revised its approach to the management and production of news and current affairs programming," it said. The committee was also "satisfied that RTÉ has taken significant steps to address the issues that have arisen from the production of this (Frontline) programme."

Another investigation "would not add sufficiently to what has been learned to date so as to justify its instigation," it said.

In response the BAI, RTÉ today said it is fully satisfied, as are the authors of the review, that the report published on Sunday was an accurate representation of the editorial failings as identified in the working document.

It maintained participants took part on a confidential basis to ensure full and frank participation, and that it is bound by obligations regarding the privacy and confidentiality of the contributors.

“RTE wants to publish the working document and is contacting each individual concerned,” it added.

The broadcaster again reiterated its apology to Mr Gallagher, to all the election candidates and its audience, and said it fully accepted the production of this programme fell significantly short of the standards expected by the public.

Elsewhere, it welcomed the decision of the BAI that an investigation (under Section 53 of the Broadcasting Act 2009) is not warranted in respect of this programme.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.