Statements & Speeches

RTÉ Statement: Monday 12 March 2012

RTÉ wishes to confirm the actions that are in train in connection with the Frontline Presidential Debate programme.

  •  The Director General has instituted a full editorial review to identify programme-making practices and risks. The Review involves editorial managers and programme-makers throughout RTÉ. It will give significant attention to the production of live audience-based programmes and to the selection of audience members and questions, including the Frontline Presidential Debate. RTÉ has invited former Head of News and Content at UTV Rob Morrison to assist in reviewing the above issues in relation to that programme.
  •  RTÉ has reviewed events and decisions involved in the handling of tweets received in the Frontline programme of October 24th with the programme team members concerned. The RTÉ Board was informed last week that the internal review of HR matters connected with the Frontline Tweet Complaint was in train. As a result it was decided last week by Senior Editorial Management to initiate a personnel investigation. In order to protect the integrity of the process, as is normal for such matters, it is not appropriate to comment at all on matters directly involving named personnel.
  •  An internal Editorial Standards Board will be established to maintain and monitor content standards across RTÉ. The Editorial Standards Board also will play a new role in a restructured Complaints process: it will assess all substantive claims and where RTÉ is at fault, early decisions will identify this and RTÉ will respond accordingly.
  •  A new set of Programme Makers' Guidelines is being finalised through a process that began in February under Mr. Stephen Whittle, former Controller of Editorial Policy, BBC. It will include full new Social Media Protocols requiring systematic authentication of inputs offered to programmes. Training in key modules has begun.

RTÉ has also given a detailed account of its interactions with Mr Pat McGuirk. RTÉ's staff took research notes of the conversations with Mr McGuirk. The notes support the form of the question printed for Mr McGuirk on the night of broadcast, both in substance and in the wording used. Mr McGuirk's satisfaction with the RTÉ programme and staff is evident in his mail two days later, which in the circumstances has been made available.

RTÉ has accepted the BAI decisions last week in full and has apologised for its failures. RTÉ remains subject to governance by its Government-appointed Board; and to regulatory review by the BAI, its statutory regulator. RTÉ will comply openly and honestly with requests for compliance, regulation and proper disclosure.