Friends, Colleagues, Freelancers, Cover Your Mouths


rtereferendumScreen Shot 2015-04-01 at 21.13.11

Anon writes:

See forwarded email sent to staff of RTÉ (also independent production companies and their personnel and contractors, as well as freelances) regarding the Marriage Referendum and personal support of a Yes vote. Third paragraph is most important/shocking…

And get your hair cut, broadcast compliance guy.

Blummin’ stickies.

52 thoughts on “Friends, Colleagues, Freelancers, Cover Your Mouths

  1. Dave

    Thanks for the red arrow. Might have missed the third paragraph otherwise.
    Not that shocking though. I actually think it is a reasonable position for a public service broadcaster and presumably is part of the employee code of conduct that staff members sign up to when they join RTÉ. If they don’t like it they can become a commenter on broadsheet.

    1. Drogg

      But it’s not just people who work for rte. A freelancer is a sole trader so should not be part of the rte guidelines. Also it is very undemocratic and probably illegal for an employer to ask you to keep your personal views to yourself when not at work.

      1. Bobby

        It’s neither illegal nor undemocratic. It’s common sense. If Rte are seen on anyway to be biased to one side or another, it both damages them and opens them up to a world of shite. When you sign a contract with a company, it will normally say that you have to work in the best interests of the company. Making Rte look unbiased because of your tweets etc, would be damaging to the company. It’s that simple.

        1. joj

          Complete rubbish, RTE cant have an official opinion but their employees are more then entitled to show theirs, this is nothing more than a public servant think they’re more important than they are, I see them all the time.

          1. Drogg

            Exactly, while working directly for rte keep your opinion to yourself. But while at home in your jammies tweet whatever you want because that doesn’t stop you making balanced programming.

          2. Drogg

            Really Bob would you like to elaborate how I am wrong? Or are you just going to give me another mundane comment.

          3. YourNan

            nonsense, many companies with a strong public presence expect you to present yourself in public life in a manner harmonious to their core values. You don’t wanna do it and keep on rocking the bootcuts over your trainers? plenty of other jobs.

      1. Bob

        Social Media wasn’t an important factor before. They’ve only recently become aware of it’s scope.

  2. delacaravanio

    As an organ of the State, RTE should officially be neutral in any such referenda. Everyone knows that it’s just an official policy, however, as people working for RTE would, like most people who work in the media, have encountered real life gay people, and therefore are not likely to view gay and lesbian people as some sort of nefarious “other” who need to be denied happiness to in order to protect traditional marriage (whatever that means).

    1. Chris

      I happened to be in one of the RTE canteens/very large kitchenettes just after Pantigate (I think it was the radio building) but up on the notice board was a raft of photocopied clippings of opinion pieces and general reporting on the Pantigate fallout with many quotes highlighted. Couldn’t really figure out if they were up there for a chuckle (unlikely), as a warning or to keep the relevant quotes fresh in peoples minds.

      1. Chris

        Before you ask, the soup of the day was sh!t€ with an optional slice of brown bread which had a texture that lead me to believe the chef used discarded Fade Street scripts as a key ingredientt.

  3. Sinabhfuil

    You want to own their opinions, then you give them a staff job, permanent, pensionable, secure, properly paid.

  4. Someone

    It’s important to note that RTE are running scared ever since Pantigate.

    Can someone say if other private media such as Newstalk are held to similar guidelines by the BAI?

    Because I’m sure that Marc Coleman could be dragged over the coals on some of his opinions.

    1. Someone

      I should really do the research before posting the question.

      I also see that Coleman is gone from Newstalk, but I think it’s important that someone like George Hook, who has expressed his conservative opinions live on the radio before, be held to account on everything he says in the next few months.

      These regulations swing both ways.

  5. Sandra

    BAI guidelines issued last week state that their rules on balance re:referendum don’t cover social media. Anything on social media could only be used as supporting evidence if there was an issue with balance on-air.

    I’d have a huge issue with an employer stating you can’t express a personal view outside their channels when you’re making it clear it’s personal? (Once it’s not illegal, grossly offensive or libellous.) Surely there’s a constitutional issue here re: freedom of expression?

  6. Green fingered

    George Hook is actively promoting a yes vote. He appeared on the Late Late Show last year arguing for marriage equality.

    1. Jones

      I think George gets a hard time. While he comes across as a grumpy old man, he seems to have a very open and progressive stance on mental health, marriage equality and recently bullying amongst other topics that regular broadcasters and presenters would avoid.

  7. Tim Bucktoo

    It’s a bit silly – and hardly enforceable under subcontractors and freelancers’ contracts but RTE probably feels it needs to be seen to be striving to re-enforce independence.
    Not a big deal anyway. Who is waiting for Joe Duffy to tell them how they should vote in May?
    Maybe the plan is to gag advocates in favour of reducing the Presidential age barrier.

  8. FupOff

    Another numpty with his knickers in a twist. It makes total sense that RTE do this. If they didn’t same said numpties would be on here complaining about bias.

    Imagine, RTE being bias!

  9. rotide

    I for one would love to know RTE staff’s opinion’s on the age of a presidential candidate.

    1. Kieran NYC

      I’d love to hear it even discussed anywhere.

      Think most people are just going to scoff ‘Young people. Sure what do they know!’ as if having an under 35 year old candidate requires anyone to vote for them…

    2. rotide

      Wait, you mean people aren’t lobbying Ryanair to bring people back for free to vote for younger presedential candidates?

  10. MPTI

    People working for RTE are requested to be fair and impartial but “only for the duration of the referendum debate”. Why? I would expect that all the time.

    1. Jane

      I don’t think “fair and impartial” translates directly to “has no personal opinion”, which is the problem I have with this dictat. It is possible for an intelligent adult to both have and express a legal and legitimate personal opinion and not allow that opinion to colour their work behaviour. In fact, that’s what I’d expect of an intelligent adult.

      It’s a disgrace that we have become this infantalised. Who is going to be all that worried about what Ryan Tubridy thinks, if he cares to express his opinion?

      In any event, this one is like global warming, there actually is a right answer and introducing spurious balance for the sake of appearing balanced and impartial (like having representatives of the Iona Loonstitute on every programme) is ridiculous and is a complete misrepresentation of how normal people are engaing with this issue by giving the impression that there’s a clean 50:50 balance of opinion, right on both sides and all that, when there really isn’t.

  11. Der

    Sorry, if you’re gay you’re forbidden from expressing your desire to get married in your own country in a personal capacity (ie not on air), because you work for the state broadcaster – go fupp yoursel!

  12. Just sayin'

    I’m sure if senior presenters on RTE were openly tweeting about their opposition to gay marriage the PC brigade would go into meltdown. They’re all for balance on an EU treaty referendum but not when its an issue deemed so politically-correct that there can only be one socially acceptable position.
    RTE are being responsible and abiding by constitutional and ethical best practice here.

    1. Der

      How is an employer forbidding gay employees from discussing their desire to get married “being responsible and abiding by constitutional and ethical best practice” ?

    2. C

      Senior presenters who are the face of RTE are a lot different to a freelancer who say sound mixes a kids TV show.

      It’s ridiculous to even think that freelancer workers will pay any attention to this.

      1. The Old Boy

        And RTÉ won’t either. They’re just covering their backsides in case someone kicks up a stink. RTÉ’s only obligation under the Broadcasting Acts is to ensure that any broadcasting on matters of politics and political controversy is fair and impartial.

        The problem with high-profile broadcasters expressing an opinion one way or the others is that it generates apparent bias. Now, you’d have to be a special sort of you-know-what to argue that an unbiased programme was tainted by apparent bias because its presenter expressed an opinion elsewhere and personal capacity, but you need only look at some of those on the No side to see how likely they would be to make such an argument.

  13. Marie

    Gay Byrne said before that he keeps his view of things to himself so no one knows where he stands on issues and in my opinion thats a good position for a journalist (particularly his type of journalism) to take.

    However when an issue affects you personally, and the public know its affects you (e.g. openly gay presenter, female presenter discussing women’s rights), its quite illogical for an employer to ‘force’ its employees to not talk about it on their own personal media. If there was a debate to remove the alcohol ban on Good Friday would RTE expect a Catholic presenter to not make any mention, in a personal capacity, referring to going to mass/abstaining for lent/no crucifix twitter banners, etc..? I don’t think they would.

    Any journalist worth their salt is genuinely interest is the points that both sides make. They should be judged on how they perform their job not on peoples perception of their personal life.

    1. Jane

      Gay Byrne is not very self aware if that’s what he reckons. A quick listen to his whingebag music show on Lyric FM will cure anyone who thinks that he keeps his opinion to himself. I would estimate that fully half the show is him reading anti-EU stuff from the Daily Mail.

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