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RTÉ will adopt Press Ombudsman recommendations

The State broadcaster held a meeting this week to discuss the Prime Time Investigates programme A Mission to Prey, which was found to have defamed priest Fr Kevin Reynolds.

File photo of Kevin Dawson from RTÉ
File photo of Kevin Dawson from RTÉ
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

RTÉ HAS SAID it will adopt the Press Ombudsman John Horgan’s recommendations for improved editorial processes and safeguards around investigative journalism programming in the wake of a defamatory Prime Time Investigates programme.

The Board of RTÉ reviewed the state broadcaster’s internal and external investigations arising from the Prime Time Investigates programme A Mission to Prey, and watched presentations made by the Director General and by Professor John Horgan about the making of the programme.

The Board also accepted the request by the BAI that all of RTÉ’s investigations and recommendations should be kept confidential until the BAI’s own statutory inquiry is completed in early 2012.

In the run-up to the completion of the inquiry, RTÉ said it is “to adopt and implement specific recommendations made by Professor Horgan for improved editorial processes and safeguards around investigative journalism programming”.

It described these as “interim internal steps” and said they will be reviewed in the light of the BAI conclusions.

The Board has asked Prof Horgan to revisit the implementation of his recommendations on a periodic basis and to report to it on his findings.

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RTÉ said that once the BAI inquiry is complete, it will “implement any further necessary changes to address identified weaknesses in our editorial processes, and will continue to do everything possible to restore public confidence in RTÉ’s investigative journalism”.

RTÉ also commits to publishing the results of its own investigations and recommendations to the full extent legally permissible once the BAI Inquiry has been concluded.

The Board reiterated RTÉ’s “deep regret that serious failures occurred in the production and broadcast of” A Mission to Prey.

Our duty is to maintain and defend the public interest and to provide leadership in terms of standards and accountability, in all that we do. The Board and Director General are united in a determination to re-establish full public trust in all aspects of RTÉ’s journalism and standards through a full accounting for the exceptional and grave errors that occurred in this case.

RTÉ added it “repeats its commitment to broadcast investigative journalism as a core programming priority over the coming years and restates its support for the delivery of this service in the public interest”.

Read: BAI launches inquiry into defamatory Prime Time Investigates programme>

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