Thursday 25 December 2014

Newstalk considers legal action against RTE over Pat Kenny ad veto

Rejected ads were part of the commercial station’s ‘Move the Dial’ campaign aimed at encouraging listeners to follow Pat Kenny to Newstalk

Published 18/04/2014 | 16:28

2/9/2013; Pat Kenny, pictured on his first day as a presenter with Newstalk radio. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / Irish Independent
Pat Kenny, pictured on his first day as a presenter with Newstalk radio. Picture: Damien Eagers / Irish Independent

Newstalk is considering taking legal action against RTE as the national broadcaster refuses to carry an ad campaign from the radio station.

The rejected ads were part of the commercial station’s ‘Move the Dial’ campaign aimed at encouraging listeners to follow Pat Kenny to Newstalk after his departure from the State broadcaster’s airwaves last year.

"RTÉ's decision not to accept the ad is motivated solely by its determination to curb the listenership of a competitor," Mr Gerard Whelan, Newstalk CEO, stated. The radio station also said that RTE was in contravention of its public sector broadcasting remit, by refusing to run the TV ads.

Mr Whelan believes that RTE “took an arbitrary decision to reject it. Had the TV and radio station carried Newstalk’s ad Mr Kenny’s face would have reappeared on national screens.

The radio station’s CEO took issue with RTE’s refusal of revenue as a State broadcaster and recipient of tax payer’s money.

"RTÉ is subsidised by the taxpayer and in 2012, it generated a licence fee income of approximately €181 million. It also took in advertising revenue of approximately €156 million, in the same year. Now they want to stamp out the competition. This is clearly anti-competitive and an abuse of its position," said Mr Whelan.

Newstalk is currently taking legal advice on the matter and is strongly considering lodging a complaint to the Competition Authority.

RTE responded by saying that it "airs advertising from competing media. Previously this has included TV3, Newstalk, Today fm, Sky among others. All of these clients understand the ads must adhere to our advertising codes. We are happy to carry the most recent Newstalk TV ad as broadcast on RTE in September and October 2013 should they so wish."

It added that "an earlier version of this ad was rejected as it contained a 'call-to-action' something we have made clear is in breach of our codes and regulations. This is widely understood and respected by the industry."

The Department of Communications stated that it " does not have a role to play in RTE’s commercial policy on advertising."

RTE said that “we have yet to receive a copy of the most recent ad from Newstalk and if they want to send in the ad we’ll be more than happy to look at it.”

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