BAI launches investigation into RTÉ’s handling of defamatory Prime Time programme

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI ) has announced that it is to conduct an inquiry into an RTÉ programme which defamed Ahascragh priest, Fr Kevin Reynolds.

The BAI Compliance Committee met on Monday to discuss the Prime Time Investigate - Mission to Prey programme which aired on May 23 last and it was decided that an investigation would be conducted.

The investigation is set to examine whether the programme segment dealing with Fr Reynolds breached sub-sections 39(1 )(b ) and (e ) of the Broadcasting Act 2009. Section 39(1 )(b ) stipulates that broadcasters have a duty to ensure treatment of current affairs is fair, objective, and impartial, while Section 39(1 )(e ) stipulates that broadcasters have a duty to ensure that the privacy of any individual is not encroached on unreasonably.

On reaching its decision the BAI Compliance Committee examined the legislative obligation placed on the committee by the Broadcasting Act 2009 to represent the public interest in respect of broadcasting matters and the significant public concern in relation to the programme. It also took into account the request for an independent investigation made by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, on behalf of the Government, on November 22 last, the correction order issued by the High Court on November 17, and the acknowledgement by RTÉ that the treatment and defamation of Fr Reynolds in the programme was a grave failure of judgment. It is understood that the compliance committee will now appoint an investigating officer.

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