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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019

Outrage over RTÉ television coverage of bailout announcement

The national broadcaster comes under fire after failing to tell viewers about the bailout speech – and pulling the feed early.

IRELAND’S NATIONAL BROADCASTER RTÉ has come under fire after it failed to inform viewers that the RTÉ One schedule was to be interrupted for Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan’s bailout speech – and then stopped its coverage when a rival broadcaster began asking questions.

Viewers on the broadcaster’s flagship television channel were not informed in advance that a government announcement would be aired. Instead, viewers were told there would be a special live edition of The Week in Politics broadcast 35 minutes ahead of schedule.

Ultimately, when the press conference began at 8:27pm, the broadcaster gave just a brief introduction to the conference – which was briefly time-delayed in order to include the introduction.

Many viewers therefore were unaware that the press conference – at which Cowen and Lenihan officially informed the nation that the country would be seeking a contingency fund from the European Union and IMF – was taking place at all, and only learned of the press conference at the conclusion of Fair City, which preceded the broadcast.

Advance warning

The only indication from Montrose of an upcoming announcement came from the RTÉ Player Twitter account, through a tweet posted at 8:01pm, with another tweet posted through the RTÉ News account at 8:21pm.

By comparison, British channels Sky News and BBC News had alerted viewers to the press conference from before 7pm, when the event was originally meant to be held.

Furthermore, the RTÉ coverage of the press conference ended while the event was still taking place, when Vincent Browne – host of the nightly news show on the broadcaster’s main competition from TV3 – was pressing the Taoiseach on the level of economic power being ceded by the government.

Browne’s questions began 21 minutes into the press conference, at 8:48pm – but the RTÉ One broadcast ended two minutes later, though the event continued for a further five minutes.

Users on Facebook and Twitter were outraged at the RTÉ decision to end its coverage early, with users telling RTÉ’s official page to “stop being so biased” and to “show the truth”.

RTÉ later posted a full video of the bailout announcement on its website, but did not make any reference to the premature end of its TV broadcast.

Poll: Were you happy with RTÉ’s bailout coverage?

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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