Wednesday 18 July 2018

RTE admit listeners to Ryan Tubridy Show could have been 'more clearly reminded' about sponsorship deal with bookies

Ryan Tubridy pictured at Dublin Airport on Monday on his way to Cheltenham to present his radio show
Ryan Tubridy pictured at Dublin Airport on Monday on his way to Cheltenham to present his radio show

Robin Schiller

RTE have admitted that their listeners “could have been more clearly reminded” of a promotion between the Ryan Tubridy radio show and a bookmaker.

It comes as Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers said RTE had, for some reason, hidden the fact a betting company paid for one of its shows to travel to Cheltenham.

This week it emerged that Paddy Power funded the presence of RTE Radio 1’s ‘Ryan Tubridy Show’ at the Cheltenham horse racing festival.

Tubridy and a number of his production team broadcast live from the Paddy Power hospitality tent at Prestbury Park on Wednesday. The bookmaker also paid for travel and accommodation for the RTE broadcaster and some members of the show's team.

At the beginning of the programme, Mr Tubridy told listeners it was his first time at Cheltenham and he was there due to an invite from renowned  horse trainer Ted Walsh.

The programme also featured a live interview segment with the bookmaker's spokesperson Paddy Power.

There was no mention the company had paid to facilitate the live broadcast until the last few seconds of the show when Tubridy thanked the bookmaker "who made this all happen".

RTE has faced strong criticism from politicians and anti-gambling groups in recent days as a result of the promotion.

Speaking this evening, the national broadcaster has now said that it could have made better efforts to advise its audience of the promotion on the day of the programme.

A spokesperson for RTE said that it held a standard week long promotion “which was flagged extensively on air throughout last week” prior to this week's Cheltenham festival.

However, the broadcaster acknowledged that “listeners could have been more clearly reminded of the promotion during Wednesday’s programme.”

RTE said it could not disclose the cost of the promotion because it was commercially sensitive and added that standard terms and conditions applied, which included a competition to send winners to Cheltenham.

When asked if they accepted that more balance could have been brought to the programme, RTE said: “Balance is measured across a programme’s or a station’s output over a period of time, not necessarily within one programme.

“RTÉ in general and RTÉ Radio 1 in particular frequently cover the topic of gambling and gambling addiction across its programming,” a spokesperson added.

Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers has criticised what he described as a “cushy arrangement” between RTE and the bookmaker and said that the promotion risks normalising gambling.

“This is very troubling on a number of fronts and poses serious questions for RTÉ.

“As a public service broadcaster it has a responsibility to uphold proper standards. RTE shouldn’t be cynically promoting the gambling industry and at the same time hiding the fact a betting company has paid for an entire show to go to Cheltenham,” deputy Chambers said.

“Stunts like this normalise gambling at a time when gambling is recognised as one of the fastest growing addictions in Ireland and where there are some 40,000 problem gamblers,” he added.

The interview with Paddy Power has previously been described as a “puff piece” by Problem Gambling Ireland chief Barry Grant.

Mr Grant argued that because it is the national broadcaster, RTÉ had a special responsibility to be transparent in the funding of the broadcast.

He said he was discussing with the board of the charity whether to make a complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) over the coverage.

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