Monday 16 July 2018

RTÉ 'could've done more' to flag up bookie promotion

Ryan Tubridy at Dublin Airport on his way to Cheltenham
Ryan Tubridy at Dublin Airport on his way to Cheltenham

Robin Schiller and Kevin Doyle

RTÉ has admitted that its listeners "could have been more clearly reminded" of a promotion between the Ryan Tubridy radio show and a bookmaker.

This week it emerged Paddy Power funded the presence of RTÉ Radio 1's 'Ryan Tubridy Show' at the Cheltenham horse racing festival.

Mr 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 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 trainer Ted Walsh.

The programme also featured a live interview segment with the bookmaker's spokesperson Paddy Power. There was no mention that 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".

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

Last night the national broadcaster said it could have made better efforts to advise its audience of the promotion on the day of the programme.

A spokesperson for RTÉ said it held a standard week-long promotion "which was flagged extensively on air throughout last week" prior to this week's Cheltenham festival. However, they acknowledged "listeners could have been more clearly reminded of the promotion during Wednesday's programme".

RTÉ 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 it accepted that more balance could have been brought to the programme, RTÉ 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," the spokesperson added.

Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers has criticised what he described as a "cushy arrangement" between RTÉ and the bookmaker and said the promotion risked normalising gambling. "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 said.

The interview with Paddy Power had previously been described as a "puff piece" by Problem Gambling Ireland chief Barry Grant. He argued that because it is the national broadcaster, RTÉ has a special responsibility to be transparent in the funding of the broadcast.

Irish Independent

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