RTE red-faced after 10-minute technical glitch on 'Prime Time'
Published 04/03/2014 | 02:30
RTE apologised to viewers after an "enormous and embarrassing" technical glitch had the same phrase repeated incessantly during last night's 'Prime Time' for more than 10 minutes.
During an interview with Russian Ambassador Maxim Peshkov a loop of the same phrase was played hundreds of times.
Bizarrely, the televised pictures continued to roll in the background, meaning viewers were presented with a series of interviews accompanied only by the ambassador speaking the words: "Irish Ukrainians, not Russians".
RTE was bombarded with phone calls from confused viewers. As the glitch continued, 'Prime Time' presenter David McCullagh jokingly tweeted: "It was all right leaving here".
RTE's Managing Director of News and Current Affairs, Kevin Bakhurst, took a more serious tone and issued an apology to viewers.
He tweeted: "Many apologies to those watching RTE One and #rtept – the engineers were aware and trying to sort. Not acceptable fault. Infuriating."
He later tweeted that 'Prime Time' would cover the Ukrainian situation again – perhaps even as early as tonight.
"We don't know why it was happening," said an RTE staffer last night.
"We don't know what the issue is . . . but everyone is taking calls on it."
Twitter lit up as the audio loop continued and #irishukrainiansnotrussians began trending along with #rtept. Even when RTE broke for adverts, the phrase "Irish Ukranians, not Russians" continued to be heard until finally the audio feed was restored during a shampoo commercial.
An apology was later read out by the continuity announcer and a 'Prime Time' statement said: "Many apologies for the enormous and embarrassing technical problem on PT tonight. Engineers were on to it straight away, but difficult to stop."
It is the latest technical glitch to hit a high-profile RTE programme after its EuroSong scoreboard caused confusion on last Friday's 'Late Late Show'.