BAI Compliance Committee Meeting 13th March 2012



Prime Time Investigates ‘Mission to Prey

In December 2011, the BAI Compliance Committee launched an investigation into RTÉ’s Prime Time Investigates programme, ‘Mission to Prey’, broadcast on 23rd May 2011. The investigation was undertaken by the BAI appointed Investigating Officer, Ms. Anna Carragher, further to section 53 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 (the 2009 Act). The Investigating Officer was tasked with forming a view and reporting to the Compliance Committee on whether, in broadcasting those elements of the programme that dealt with Fr. Kevin Reynolds, RTÉ was in breach of section 39(1)(b) and/or section 39(1)(e) of the 2009 Act.

Section 39(1)(b) requires that broadcasters ensure that the broadcast treatment of current affairs is fair to all interests concerned and that the broadcast matter is presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcasters own views.
Section 39(1) (e) requires that broadcasters ensure that in the means employed to make programmes, the privacy of any individual is not unreasonably encroached upon.

In accordance with section 54(3) of the 2009 Act, the Compliance Committee has today considered the report of the Investigating Officer, Ms. Anna Carragher. The Committee, having fulfilled its statutory function in respect of this matter, has formulated a recommendation which will be passed to the Authority. While the Authority is obliged to accept the recommendation, it would be inappropriate to make further comment pending consideration by the Authority of that recommendation.

The Compliance Committee would like to thank the Investigating Officer, Ms. Anna Carragher, for her thorough and professional investigation which was of great assistance to the Committee in reaching its determination on this matter.

The Frontline Presidential Debate & Today with Pat Kenny

At its meeting today, the Committee also considered matters arising on foot of its decision, issued last week, to uphold six complaints in respect of The Frontline Presidential Debate, broadcast on 24th October 2011, and one complaint in respect of the Today with Pat Kenny programme, broadcast on 25th October 2011. Both programmes were found by the Committee to have been unfair to the Presidential Candidate, Mr. Seán Gallagher.

In particular, the Committee considered allegations that the programme makers had influenced an audience member in respect of the question asked during The Frontline Presidential Debate that would accordingly raise concerns regarding a lack of objectivity and impartiality towards Mr. Seán Gallagher. Following its discussion of the matter, the Committee noted that it had not received any direct evidence that would cause it to review its decision as issued on Wednesday 7th March last. The Committee will consider the matter further in the event that any direct evidence emerges.

As part of its discussion, the Committee noted that RTÉ had, in response to the BAI’s decision and subsequent emerging issues, instituted a full editorial review of its programme-making practices. In this regard, the Committee will now request RTÉ to communicate to the Committee the findings of the review upon its completion. Following receipt of this review, the Committee will consider the findings and whether any further action is required.

Media Queries to-

Catherine Heaney
DHR Communications
087 2309835