Fianna Fáil Communications Spokesperson Michael Moynihan TD has responded to comments from Minister Pat Rabbitte, accusing the Minister of seeking to undermine the independent Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

Deputy Moynihan commented, “The Minister’s intervention in the exchange between RTÉ and the BAI about RTÉ’s report into the Frontline Presidential Debate fiasco is highly inappropriate.  The BAI is the statutory authority mandated to monitor broadcasters’ adherence to the code of practice and to deal with them when they breach it.

“In this case, the BAI have taken the view, correctly, that RTÉ should publish the full working paper setting out what went wrong in The Frontline Presidential Debate.  RTÉ in turn briefed a national newspaper, telling them that they planned to secure the co-operation of any named individuals and then publish the working paper as requested.

“The Minister, who should have maintained his distance from the discussion until it had either been resolved or had reached an impasse, then wades in, dismissing the BAI’s legitimate critique and ruling the publication of the working paper.

“This is highly inappropriate and raises a number of questions:

  • Has he actually seen the full ‘working paper’ report?
  • Did he discuss this issue with RTÉ before telling them they should not comply with a BAI request?
  • If so, at what level did these discussions take place?
  • Has he formally communicated his view that RTÉ should not comply with BAI request to the RTÉ Chairman?
  • Did he seek any professional advice on RTÉ’s obligations before intervening?

“It is important that RTÉ demonstrates its independence from the Minister in this issue and proceeds to publish the working paper, as requested by the BAI, as soon as possible.

“The BAI Chairman should also take the earliest opportunity to remind Minister Rabbitte of his organisations independent statutory role.”