The BAI Compliance Committee at its meeting this morning (29th November) has decided to commence an investigation into the RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme broadcast on the 23rd May 2011, further to Section 53 of the Broadcasting Act 2009.
The investigation will examine whether the programme segment dealing with Fr. Kevin Reynolds breached sub-sections 39(1) (b) and (e) of the Broadcasting Act 2009.
- Section 39(1) (b) deals with the duty placed on broadcasters to ensure that the treatment of current affairs is fair, objective and impartial. This section states:
Every broadcaster shall ensure that –
The broadcast treatment of current affairs, including matters which are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate, is fair to all interests concerned and that the broadcast matter is presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of his or her own views, except that should it prove impracticable in relation to a single broadcast to apply this paragraph, two or more related broadcasters may be considered as a whole, if the broadcasts are transmitted within a reasonable period of each other,
- Section 39 (1) (e) deals with privacy and requires that every broadcaster ensures that –
In programmes broadcast by the broadcaster, and in the means employed to make such programmes, the privacy of any individual is not unreasonably encroached upon.
In reaching its decision to commence an investigation, the Compliance Committee had regard to the following:-
- The legislative obligation placed on the Compliance Committee by the Broadcasting Act 2009 to represent the public interest in respect of broadcasting matters and the significant public concern in relation to the programme;
- The request from the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Pat Rabbitte T.D., on behalf of the Government, that the Compliance Committee investigate the programme;
- The Correction Order issued by the High Court in relation to the programme;
- The acknowledgement by RTÉ that the treatment and defamation of Fr. Kevin Reynolds in the programme was a grave failure of judgement.
The next step in the process will involve the appointment by the Compliance Committee of an Investigating Officer. Further details of the individual selected to undertake the investigation and the scope, terms of reference and timeline for the investigation will be published following the appointment of the Investigating Officer.
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