Monday 27 May 2019

RTE tells Nob Nation 'go easy' on Cowen over personal jibes

JODY CORCORAN

RTE has asked satirist Oliver Callan, of Nob Nation, to "go easy" on the Taoiseach stating that his increasingly controversial portrayal of Brian Cowen as a drunken buffoon "might be perceived to be a bit personal at this stage".

Citing RTE guidelines on fairness, a spokeswoman for the station yesterday told the Sunday Independent that the producer in charge of the Gerry Ryan Show, which broadcasts the Nob Nation sketches, had "acted correctly" and had shown "sound editorial judgement" in writing to Callan last month to urge him to temper his portrayal of Mr Cowen.

Supporters of Mr Cowen are known to be upset at the Nob Nation portrayal of him as a hard-drinking and sometimes crude politician surrounded by Cabinet members who are also frequently portrayed in a similar manner.

The producer of the Gerry Ryan Show on 2fm, Siobhan Hough, sent an email to Callan on February 2 last explaining that she did not broadcast a sketch that morning following a letter the comedian had had published in the Sunday World the previous day under the headline: "You are treating the crisis like you have just farted in a crowded room, yet leave as if it has nothing to do with you."

Ms Hough wrote: "I didn't broadcast Nob Nation this morning as following your letter in yesterday's Sunday World, I was very concerned about the perception of you as a satirist, especially as today's Nob was completely dedicated to Brian Cowen.

"Perhaps your letter was intended to be funny, but it also might be interpreted as a much more serious political letter. If the latter perception holds then it brings Nob Nation, you, and the Gerry Ryan Show into a much more difficult area where Nob is viewed as an opinion piece, rather than a comic or satirical sketch.

"My instinct is that you need to go easy on Brian Cowen as it might be perceived to be a bit personal at this stage. You should spread the attention around as much as possible."

Ms Hough stressed: "This is not a reaction to any pressure from Government; we have not received any objections or complaints on behalf of anybody in Government. This is about fairness."

Since the email was received, Nob Nation has somewhat eased off Mr Cowen. However, it still lampoons him on an almost daily basis in its 10am broadcasts. The Minister for Health Mary Harney has also been a target in recent weeks.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for RTE told the Sunday Independent: "Siobhan Hough is the producer-in-charge of RTE 2fm's Gerry Ryan Show. Her responsibility is to oversee the output during the show and to ensure compliance with RTE's programme-maker guidelines. This responsibility includes overseeing any content broadcast during the show, including Nob Nation sketches.

"It is the producer-in-charge's responsibility to ensure that there is no editorial bias and that one-sided items are not broadcast on RTE."

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