Facing the media: RTE DG, Noel Curran
RTE's Director General is looking for clarity from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) over what contributes a conflict of interest by an employee.
Speaking as part of a seminar series at the University of Limerick (UL), Noel Curran said that he needs to get certainty from the BAI on how their recent new codes will operate.
"The BAI are now saying that it will be up to the broadcaster to highlight any conflict of interest," Curran said.
"In the past the onus was on the presenter of a television show to highlight any conflict of interest," he added.
The BAI published new codes dealing with fairness in news and current affairs programming earlier this week.
Mr Curran said he welcomed the new codes, but he indicated that the conflict of interest was still a grey area that needed further clarification.
He said that the majority of the new codes will have little impact on the state broadcaster as they already adhere to stringent rules and guidelines.
In light of the recent scandals within RTE, such as the Mission to Pray programme and the presidential campaign 'tweetgate' saga, Mr Curran said: "We have certainly learned from our mistakes. Much more stringent guidelines are now in place for things like covert filming, verification and doorstepping, and prior approval is also required".
Curran said that it was inevitable, particularly in the investigative journalism business that RTE would make mistakes.
"The chances of us making mistakes on the scale of Mission to Pray is hopefully something that we have addressed, but we 'will' make mistakes."
He also said that past issues with presenters expressing personal views on air are now covered by way of contracts.
When asked about the current revelations over RTE broadcaster's pay, Curren acknowledged that the station was paying some of their talent too much.
"That was our fault and not theirs," he said.
"But I believe we have some absolutely unique presenters in RTE," Curran added.
He said the station planned to deliver a minimum of 30 per cent reduction through wage payments and that they had managed to take 20 per cent off their operating costs.
Curran also said that contracts will be re-examined as they come up.
When asked what advise he would give the journalists of the future he said the one thing that was paramount today was the ability to move across different media formats and platforms.
Although he praised social media and blogging, he told students 'never to write off traditional media'.
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