RTE has admitted that it has been airing ads for Newstalk that it banned last year.
The adverts have been broadcast over the last week but RTE now says the whole episode was a mistake.
Newstalk executives were astonished to hear the national broadcaster air the 'Move the Dial' slogan which had been the subject of much controversy last year and which is now the subject of a European competition battle.
Once RTE learned yesterday that the slogan had been aired seven times on advertisements since May 5 it moved to have their rival’s call to action removed.
The row between the two broadcasters centres on a campaign launched by the commercial rival last year which centred on trying to get listeners to switch over to the likes of Pat Kenny on Newstalk.
Justifying the ban in April of last year, RTE said the adverts breached the State broadcaster’s own guidelines.
Newstalk subsequently argued the stance was an abuse of a dominant position by refusing to take the commercial station’s money. The commercial station said this was in turn affecting the taxpayer who subsidises the state broadcaster through a licence fee.
It lodged a complaint to the CCPC (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission) claiming a breach of the Irish and EU competition rules. The Communicorp owned station also lodged a complaint with the EU commission in Brussels claiming that the TV licence fee money paid to RTE was not in accordance with state aid rules set out in the EU treaty. This investigation is ongoing
However, it has transpired that a form of the ad, complete with the 'Move the Dial' statement, was aired seven times on RTE since May 5th.
A spokesperson for RTE last night confirmed that this had occurred - but that it had occurred in error. The unedited ad had been uploaded into their system before the weekend and mistakenly broadcast.
New copy approved by RTE - which does not contain the 'Move the Dial' phrase - has since been uploaded into their system and will be broadcast instead.
"We can confirm that a commercial which was not approved for broadcast on RTÉ was inadvertently loaded into our computerised transmission system and was therefore broadcast in error.
"The relevant copy has now been removed and replaced by the copy approved for broadcast. There has been no change to RTÉ Guidelines in regard to approving copy," the spokesperson said.
Reacting to RTE's confirmation that the ad had been aired by mistake, Newstalk said they were disappointed by RTE's blunder, having initially believed RTE had "finally come to their senses".
Cliona Hayes, Group Marketing Director, Communicorp said: “We are hugely disappointed to hear this was a mistake after RTE airing the ad numerous times over a full week.
"Just when we thought that RTE had come to their senses. As we have said before, RTE’s decision not to accept the ad in its original format is motivated by the desire to diminish the effectiveness of Newstalk’s campaign, and to curb the listenership of a competitor.
"This is clearly anti-competitive and an abuse of its dominant position. We lodged a complaint with the CCPC over a year ago and we expect to receive a decision presently," she said.