Once again I have some important announcements to bring to you all today, concerning both our Current Affairs journalism and our editorial standards generally, and also concerning two of our senior staff.
As you may have heard on bulletins yesterday, the BAI has confirmed that it has reached a decision on foot of the Investigation under Section 53 of the Broadcasting Act into the Prime Time Investigates documentary “A Mission to Prey”. We are now awaiting receipt of the formal notification of decision and, in due course, of the finalised BAI Report.
While we must wait for the conclusion of the BAI process, RTÉ must also deal with issues which have arisen in respect of Current Affairs programming. RTÉ will make an announcement today regarding decisions that have been taken at personnel level. As well as announcing these new structures within News and Current Affairs, we will also announce the publication of new guidelines.
I hope that this is a key step in an important direction. The range of measures in today’s announcement represents RTÉ’s determination to make our journalism stronger, fairer and more transparent, and to reiterate our commitment to journalism as a core public service.
Mistakes will happen in broadcasting and in journalism, no matter what changes are made. Programme makers must be and will be supported in making challenging programming but the standards we set for ourselves as the national broadcaster must be very high, as I know they are in so much of what we currently do.
Through these new measures and structures and their robust operation, programme makers from the most junior to the highest level will clearly understand and accept their responsibility and role in rebuilding RTÉ’s reputation for very high quality journalism. It is only through great programming that we will rebuild the trust we have lost with our audiences. We are determined to achieve that.
The following will form a core part of today’s announcement:
· The retirement of Ed Mulhall from RTÉ; the resignation of Ken O’Shea as Editor of Current Affairs.
· Investigative journalism is confirmed as a continuing core element of RTÉ public service content, with a new Current Affairs Investigations Unit to provide key journalistic output on a multi-media basis for the first time, supplying Television, Radio and Online.
· Prime Time Investigates will not return to air.
· There will be a full restructuring of Television Current Affairs management and structures in line with improved editorial controls.
· Arising from this and from the departure of two senior executives, five senior posts in Television News and Current Affairs management, including two new editorial management posts, will be filled. There will be external recruitment but no net additions to RTÉ headcount.
· All RTÉ editorial staff will be issued with and trained in new Journalism Guidelines.
· A new Editorial Standards Board will oversee standards, and will take a role in a revised Complaints procedure.
I wish to thank Ed Mulhall for his dedication, professionalism and commitment to RTÉ and to its core public broadcast services in Newsand Current Affairs and to the management of its Newsroom operations and staff. Ed’s expertise and wisdom have made an invaluable contribution to our organisation and I personally offer my sincere
gratitude to him for all that he has done.
Ed made a significant contribution to work recently set in train to produce new Journalism Guidelines for RTÉ editorial staff and provided detailed responses to issues arising from current affairs programming.
I am meeting today with both Current Affairs and News staff to go through the changes with them. Over the coming weeks I will meet with other divisions to go through today’s announcements and some of the other challenges that we are addressing at present.
For now, may I thank you for your attention and commitment.
Noel Curran, Director General, RTÉ
Thanks Pat S