RTE’s head of TV has defended the station in light of ‘Pantigate’ in an emailed memo to staff sent last night.
And he added that RTE had not engaged in censorship but had fallen foul of Ireland’s defamation laws.
The correspondence came after it emerged RTE had paid out €85,000 in damages over remarks made by ‘Miss Panti’, Rory O'Neill in an interview on The Saturday Night Show.
“Over the last week a number of people have approached me questioning RTÉ’s apology to John Waters and members of the Iona Institute following the receipt of six legal complaints and you will, no doubt, have seen the ongoing debate on this subject,” Glenn Killane, managing director, wrote to staff.
“I want to reassure you that RTÉ explored every option available to it, including right of reply. Legal advice was sought and all avenues were explored, including an offer to make a donation to a neutral charity.”
He added: “However, based on the facts of what was broadcast, and having regard for broadcasting compliance issues, the seriousness of the legal complaints, and the decision by the complainants not to accept RTÉ’s proposed remedies, we decided that a settlement was the most prudent course of action. Senior counsel was consulted and confirmed that the legal position was far from clear.”
He added that RTE continues to cover related topics “as evidenced by last week’s Late Debate, coverage of the protest in Dublin city centre on Sunday, today’s item on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 and last weekend’s debate on the subject on The Saturday Night Show.”
RTE declined to comment on the memo when contacted this morning.