Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley has described the decision of RTÉ to block advertising for its rival radio station Newstalk as an abuse of its privileged position in Irish life. He also dismissed the reason given by RTÉ for rejecting the advertisement as nonsensical.
Speaking at a debate on the issue secured by Fianna Fáil in Dáil Éireann today, Deputy Dooley commented, “RTÉ enjoys a very privileged position in Ireland, receiving approximately €180 million in licence fees from citizens and playing a central role in the nation’s artistic, cultural and political life. With that special position comes serious responsibilities, one of which must be to avoid abusing the substantial power it has.
“By refusing advertising revenue from a legitimate business operation and blocking a rival broadcaster from advertising on its stations, I believe RTÉ has abused its position. It looks like a simple and petty attempt to frustrate its commercial rival.
“The nonsensical reason given for blocking the advertisement serves only to reinforce that impression. Station bosses say they blocked the ad because it contained ‘a call to action’. While I am not an advertising professional, my simple understanding of advertising is that the entire point of it is to call consumers to action.
“The Minister has hinted publicly that he agrees with my analysis. I would now call him to action and urge him to ask RTÉ bosses to think again. RTÉ has worked hard in recent times to rebuild public trust after a series of high profile problems. Unforced errors like this clumsy attempt to damage a rival serve only to distract from the station’s important work.”