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RTÉ reiterates apology to Seán Gallagher, will publish report document

It said it would publish the complete report of the editorial review of the Frontline Presidential Debate, after it was requested by the BAI earlier today.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated 9.30pm

RTÉ HAS RESPONDED to the BAI’s request that it publish the document on which its report into last October’s Frontline Presidential debate was based.

The Compliance Committee met on Tuesday to consider RTÉ’s report, which was made public last weekend, and decided that a statutory investigation under Section 53 of the Broadcasting Act would not add sufficiently to what has already been learned to date. RTÉ said this evening that it welcomes the decision that an investigation is not warranted.

This afternoon, the BAI said:

It is also the committee’s view that its review of the working document indicates that the editorial failings of the programme were more significant than has been identified by RTÉ in the published report

The BAI had previously upheld a complaint by Seán Gallagher about a tweet broadcast during the Frontline debate, saying that in its view the broadcast of the tweet was unfair to Gallagher. This issue was not dealt with in the report.

This evening, RTÉ reiterated its apology to Sean Gallagher, to all the candidates and to its audience.

We fully accept that, as the BAI state, “the production of this programme fell significantly short of the standards expected by the public …”

The broadcaster published the complete report of the editorial review of the Frontline Presidential Debate on Sunday last. It had previously supplied, on request, an additional working document to the BAI, to assist the Compliance Committee.

RTÉ said it acknowledges the BAI’s request that RTÉ now publish the working document of the review and that it is fully satisfied, as are the authors of the review, that the report is an accurate representation of the editorial failings as identified in the working document.

It explained:

The working document of the review was not offered for publication as participants in the review took part on a confidential basis so as to ensure full and frank participation. The working document contains summaries of interviews with individual members of the studio audience, conducted by the review team. RTÉ is, as is the case generally, bound by obligations regarding the privacy and confidentiality of the contributors. RTÉ wants to publish the working document and is contacting each individual concerned.

RTÉ said it has accepted, in full, the findings of the report and those of the BAI, and has also accepted in full the recommendations of the report. The broadcaster said it has worked over recent months to ensure the recommendations have been implemented.

The report can be accessed here.

Read: Watchdog asks RTÉ to publish Frontline document to highlight editorial failings>

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