A sketch about God on the RTÉ New Year’s Eve Countdown Show, intended as satire, did not comply with RTÉ’s own standards and broader regulations, the organisation said today.
In a statement, RTÉ said its Editorial Standards Board found that the sketch did not comply with several provisions.
These included Section 39 (1) (d) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the BAI Code of Programme Standards in relation to material that causes “undue offence”.
It also did not comply with provision of Principle 5 in the above Code (Respect for Persons and Groups in Society) regarding “due respect” for religious beliefs.
The RTÉ Editorial Standards Board also found the sketch was not in compliance with the provision in the RTÉ Journalism & Content Guidelines regarding sensitivity to people’s religious beliefs.
After consideration of the RTÉ Editorial Standards Board’s findings, RTÉ decided it will make a voluntary disclosure of non-compliance to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and engage with the authority in this process.
It will also request the Editorial Standards Board to review the processes involved in the broadcast and report on it.
RTÉ has removed this sketch from the RTÉ Player.
The organisation said it will also carry a public statement and apology, with due prominence, acknowledging that the sketch did not meet the standards expected of the national broadcaster.
In a statement, RTÉ said it was its view that satire “is an important part of the offering to our audience”.
It added: “However, satire, no more than any other aspect of our output, must adhere to our own standards and the standards set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the BAI Codes.”
RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes said: “We accept the findings of the Editorial Standards Board that this sketch was not compliant with our own guidelines or with our obligations under the relevant codes.
“On behalf of RTÉ, I fully apologise for that. We will now review the processes involved and engage constructively with the BAI.”