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RTE respond to complaints on coverage

November 22nd, 2010 · 3 Comments · Elections, Irish Politics

Last nights RTE coverage of the Government press conference confirming the cabinet’s decision to take a bail out has been heavily critcised. You can read more about what happened and what the complaints concerned here and here.

RTE have been responding to many complaints on the coverage today with the following replies.

RTÉ ran comprehensive coverage of the events surrounding the Cabinet meeting of Sunday 21st November. The in-depth interview with the Minister for Finance on This Week on RTÉ Radio 1, providing confirmation that Ireland would be seeking a financial rescue package, set the afternoon news agenda. Detailed analysis of the story was provided on the Six One News which had an average audience of 636,000 and there was live coverage on RTÉ One of the Government press conference between 8.30 and 9.00pm. At 9.00pm we switched to an extended edition of the Nine O’Clock News and at 10.30pm there was an extended edition of The Week in Politics.  Our online news service on ran the full Government press conference which continued for just three minutes after we finished coverage on TV.

There has been a suggestion that we in some way censored Vincent Browne’s questioning of the Taoiseach for reasons of commercial rivalry with TV3. This is far from being the case. Our news special ran for half an hour and contained a number of questions from various journalists including our own, some international broadcasters and from TV3 both Ursula Halligan and Vincent Browne whose first four questions were broadcast before we returned briefly to studio for analysis and then went to the extended Nine O’Clock News. The News Special attracted an average audience of 364,000 compared to 35,000 for Sky News’ coverage of the same event.

RTÉ One, being a mixed channel and not a specialist News channel, has to serve audience needs other than News. That said, on a night of intense national drama, it was imperative that the Nine O’Clock news went to air on time for the huge audience (average 769,000) who switched to us to find out the latest developments. To mark the seriousness of the day’s events, The Week in Politics was brought forward to 10.30 pm, broadcast live and extended, and received an average audience figure of 359,000.

RTÉ News is satisfied that it covered yesterday’s events fully and appropriately.

I’m not very impressed with the statement – the live coverage was badly introduced with no context and very little lead in and they cut away before the press conference was over – well before the 9pm news and while BBC News and SkyNews had been focussed on Government buildings all day.  And when the hard questions were finally being asked about the future of this government and Brian Cowen as Taoiseach.  They are a Public Service Broadcaster – with plenty of resources to do this – the country was about to go into even more debt to European nations and others.  They should have come on and explained it before it started and what was going to happen and analyse it afterwards. There are enough stressed, scared people in the country as it is without going live to a press conference with no information to set the scene.

Today RTE dropped the ball on the Green Party Press conference but that’s another matter.



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