Sunday 21 January 2018

Candidates call for fair airtime split after Norris interview

Louise Hogan

PRESIDENTIAL hopefuls have criticised the RTE airtime already afforded to Independent Senator David Norris, even though he has yet to win a nomination.

Now they are to insist that the national broadcaster takes into account the interview given by Mr Norris to Ryan Tubridy live on 'The Late Late Show' when it allocates airtime in the presidential debate.

A spokeswoman for RTE said the decision was taken to interview Mr Norris on September 16's 'Late Late Show' due to the "newsworthiness" of the story as he was showing signs of returning to the presidential fray.

"It was a topical item," she stressed.

She said "strict rules of parity" of coverage of all candidates would be applied from Wednesday, September 28 -- the deadline for receipt of nominations for the candidacy.

A spokeswoman for Michael D Higgins said the Labour Party candidate had "every faith that the broadcasting code will be honoured by all media outlets".


"Clearly David Norris has had a distinct advantage and this has to be addressed and we will be looking forward to hearing from RTE on how they will address this," she added.

Charlie Flanagan, director of elections for Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell, said the party was "closely monitoring" the coverage to date and would be seeking equality of opportunity for all candidates.

"I'm sure that RTE, having regard to the public service obligations, will give equality of treatment to every candidate," he said.

A campaign manager for Independent hopeful Sean Gallagher said: "We are aware of Senator David Norris's interview on 'The Late Late Show' and we're fully confident RTE will provide balanced coverage in relation to the debate."

A campaign manager for Dana Rosemary Scallon declined to comment.

Meanwhile, TV3 confirmed its live presidential debate hosted by Vincent Browne would take place on October 4.

Irish Independent

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