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Monday 24 July 2017

RTE will tighten up editorial controls after libel

Mark Hilliard

RTE is to apply several editorial "safeguards" to its investigative journalism process in line with a report into its handling of the 'Prime Time Investigates' programme that libelled Fr Kevin Reynolds.

Its board was yesterday presented with two reports dealing with separate aspects of the overall investigation.

However, there has been no mention of any likely disciplinary action against the programme's team and neither report will be published until after the completion of a third probe by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

There is also the possibility that some elements of the reports, where they are legally sensitive, may be redacted.

While the specifics of yesterday's reports remain unclear, RTE revealed that they deal on the one hand with the specific timeline of events on the 'A Mission to Prey' programme and on the other, with general editorial process.

The reports were submitted by director general Noel Curran and by Professor John Horgan.

Processes

"The director general made a presentation on the timelines and steps involved in the transmission of the original programme and the management of all matters before and since the broadcast," a statement issued last night said.

"Professor John Horgan presented a report concerning editorial processes in TV current affairs and offered recommendations in respect of these."

However, despite discussing the findings, the board says it must respect a formal request from the BAI to maintain confidentiality around the reports until such time as its own is completed.

It is expected by early next March.

"The board did, however, discuss all aspects of the director general's presentation. In addition the board reviewed and accepted in full the recommendations," the broadcaster said.

"Pending completion of the BAI inquiry, RTE is to adopt and implement specific recommendations made by Prof Horgan for improved editorial processes and safeguards around investigative journalism programming."

RTE has committed to publishing all of these recommendations once the BAI report is completed.

It said: "RTE also commits to publishing the results of its own investigations and recommendations to the full extent legally permissible once the BAI inquiry has been concluded."

Irish Independent

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