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TV3 chief: We couldn't afford to make mistake like Mission to Prey

David McRedmond says his station wouldn’t have made libel because “we couldn’t afford a settlement” like that given by RTÉ to Fr Kevin Reynolds.

David McRedmond, CEO of TV3
David McRedmond, CEO of TV3
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of TV3, David McRedmond, has said that the Fr Kevin Reynolds libel “couldn’t have happened” at TV3 because “we couldn’t afford a settlement like that”.

The damages paid to Fr Kevin Reynolds, who was defamed on the RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme Mission to Prey, fell in the region of “seven figures” according to RTÉ, although the exact figure has never been revealed. McRedmond, speaking at an Ethics in Journalism debate in Griffith College Dublin last night, said that TV3 had to be very conscious of making all the “checks and balances” because they weren’t in a position to sustain a major payout in the case of a major defamation.

However, McRedmond did also add that TV3 “don’t do investigative journalism”. He said that the TV3 brand “is to entertain”. He said the station “would like to” do more investigative journalism but that resources are the issue in journalism overall at the moment. On the Fr Reynolds case, he asserted that, “The public is not that interested in the story”. He added “RTÉ made a grave error but it is time to move on.”

He added:

What is getting journalism in this country is economics. Economics tend to define pretty much everything.

On foot of a question from the audience at the debate later, McRedmond revised his statement on TV3′s record in investigative journalism, citing Paul Connolly Investigates and the recent documentary on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. When challenged by that audience member on some issues with Connolly’s show ‘Ireland’s Bogus Beggars’, McRedmond said that he personally didn’t like the phrase “bogus beggars” but didn’t believe that any topic should be taboo for investigation.

Helen Shaw, a former head of RTÉ Radio and now of Athena Media which is currently producing The Media Show on RTÉ Radio 1, said that the details from a BAI briefing document on the Reynolds case – as leaked to the Irish Times – showed that their verdict would be “damning”. She said that it showed that something had gone “fundamentally wrong” in the broadcaster’s systems, a point further highlighted by the broadcasting of a tweet from a false Twitter account during the RTÉ Frontline presidential debate.

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The other panellists on the GCD debate last night included Martin Fitzpatrick of the Press Council and NUJ, Sunday Independent columnist Carol Hunt, independent senator Ronan Mullen, social media expert Stephen O’Leary and feminist activist Ailbhe Smith.

The full debate will be broadcast on Griff FM at a later date. A livetweet stream of last night’s discussion is available by clicking on this #GCDPanel hashtag.

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