Editorial

Friday 1 August 2014

Frontline probe only muddies water more

Published 23/11/2012|05:00

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THAT 'Frontline' debate before the presidential election just will not go away.

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It was, of course, terribly important and may have changed the result of the election, but it is hard to see what good can come from yesterday's new spat between the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and RTE.

The BAI's statement is, quite frankly, hard to understand. Its Compliance Committee decided that a statutory investigation was not justified.

Among the reasons given were that it had already been investigated; that RTE had made significant changes; and that the report published by the broadcaster provided "a certain level of insight" into what went wrong.

That phrase seems to be the problem. The BAI wants the working document, where RTE interviewed those involved, to be published.

It says this would provide additional insights into the editorial failings, and show that these failings were more significant than identified in the published report.

This is deeply unsatisfactory. The BAI has seen the working document. Its job is to come to conclusions based on what it has seen. If it thinks the failing were worse than so far exposed, it is the authority's job to expose and explain them.

The key issue seems to be that the working document has the evidence of named individuals, and the BAI would like that made public. We are up against the old Irish failing; that nobody is ever held to account by name.

Publishing their evidence might be one way round these failings, but it would be a bad way, which might inhibit future investigations. RTE is willing to publish the document but needs each individual's permission. It is unlikely to get it.

The authority has left a doubt in people's minds that the whole story has been told, but seems to feel unable to tell it. There must be a better way.

Irish Independent

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