RTÉ’s Complaints Process
Under the Broadcasting Act 2009 (Sections 47 and 48) all broadcasters are obliged to put in place a practice for dealing with complaints. The Act states that:
- A broadcaster shall give due and adequate consideration to a complaint, made in writing by a person in respect of the broadcasting service provided by the broadcaster which, in the opinion of the broadcaster, has been made in good faith and is not of a frivolous or vexatious nature. Section 47 (1)
- A complaint shall be made to the broadcaster not more than 30 days after the date of the broadcast Section 47 (2) (a)
- A broadcaster shall prepare and implement a code of practice for the handling of complaints Section 47 (3)
There is therefore a clear statutory process to allow people make complaints to broadcasters which may ultimately be appealed to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland if a person is not satisfied with the response provided by the broadcaster in the first instance.
Any person who wishes to make a formal complaint about a broadcast is required to comply with certain conditions to facilitate the broadcaster in processing the complaint. However, a person may not wish to engage in that process but rather may want a mechanism to make their views and/or opinions known to the broadcaster.
Tell RTÉ What You Think
There is a very clear distinction between embarking upon the formal statutory complaints process and having the opportunity to air your views to senior RTÉ management.
RTÉ has a facility to allow any person put their views directly to senior management whether that concerns a particular programme; what RTÉ does and does not cover, the content of our schedules, or other issues.
An audience member may wish to commend or criticise a programme or content or suggest ideas or changes.
RTÉ is listening.
We welcome this feedback and we circulate it weekly to senior management as it provides a direct and valuable insight into the views of our audience.
If you wish to avail of this process to set out your views to senior management please use the following email address, email@example.com
Code of Practice for the Handling of Complaints
If you wish to make a formal complaint about a broadcast please read the following sections carefully as they set out how to use this process.
RTÉ is obliged under Section 39 (1) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 to ensure that:
(a) all news broadcast is reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcaster’s own views.
(b) the broadcast treatment of current affairs, including matters which are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate, is fair to all interests concerned and that the broadcast matter is presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of his or her own views, except that should it prove impracticable in relation to a single broadcast to apply this paragraph, two or more related broadcasts may be considered as a whole, if the broadcasts are transmitted within a reasonable period of each other.
(c) anything which may reasonably be regarded as causing harm or offence, or as likely to promote, or incite to, crime or as tending to undermine the authority of the State, is not broadcast .
(d) in programmes and in the means employed to make such programmes, the privacy of an individual is not unreasonably encroached upon.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1)(a) or (b) prevents (RTÉ) from transmitting party political broadcasts provided that (RTÉ) does not, in the allocation of time for such broadcasts, give an unfair preference to any political party.
RTÉ is also obliged to comply with the following Broadcasting Codes prepared by the BAI governing standards and practice in programming and advertising.
1. BAI General Communications Code (Advertising)
2. BAI Children’s Commercial Communications code (Children’s Advertising)
3. BAI Code of Programme Standards
4. The On-Demand Audiovisual Services Code (ODAS Code)
These codes are available on the BAI website – Click Here
Making a Complaint
RTÉ is committed to responding to all reasonable complaints concerning programme content or advertising which are not considered to be of a frivolous or vexatious nature. It is RTÉ’s policy that all complaints should receive meaningful replies which attempt to address issues raised in complaints. RTÉ aims to ensure that all complaints received in writing or by-email shall be replied to by an appropriate member of the production team within 20 working days.
If members of the public are of the opinion that a programme or a segment of a programme or an advertisement broadcast on RTÉ has:
- Breached a provision of section 39 (1) (a), (b), (d) or (e) of the Broadcasting Act 2009
- Failed to comply with a provision of the BAI Codes.
they are entitled to make a formal complaint to RTÉ. The complaint should be sent to the RTÉ Complaints office:
3rd Floor Admin Building
or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
What constitutes a valid complaint?
A valid complaint about a broadcast under the Broadcasting Act or any of the BAI Codes must contain specific information about the nature of the the complaint:
- Firstly, the complaint must specify the name of the programme broadcast and the time and date of the broadcast item that is the subject of the complaint;
- Secondly, the complainant must state what aspect of the Broadcasting Act and/or the relevant BAI Code(s) were breached and in what way they believe they were breached.
This information is required for the following reasons;
- It allows the broadcaster to identify the broadcast that is the subject of the complaint, the nature of the complaint and this facilitates a meaningful response being prepared by the relevant programme editor/producer;
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the response this can be appealed to the BAI where the above information will be sought as part of the appeal process. In this way, providing the information at the outset ensures the entire process can function as intended.
As you will see from above, RTÉ has provided a broad outline of the kind of complaints that can be made. You can also access the BAI Codes and Standards information here.
It is important that a complainant takes time to be familiar with these provisions as it ensures any complaint made is clear and appropriately set out. A broadcaster is not in a position to address general or unspecified complaints and cannot be expected to second guess what exact breach of the Code(s) the complainant wishes to cite.
If RTÉ receives a complaint that does not contain the above information we will write back to the complainant requesting that more precise information is provided to allow us process the complaint. If the information sought is not provided the email will be deemed as Feedback.
Complaints to the Compliance Committee of the BAI
Members of the public may complain to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) if they are not satisfied with the response RTÉ has made to their complaint. The BAI will consider the complaint and may carry out an independent review of the complaint and the response the complainant has received. Information on how to refer a complaint to the BAI is available on the BAI website or from the following address.
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland
2-5 Warrington Place
Telephone: (01) 644 1200
Making a Complaint about Advertising on RTÉ
Members the public who wish to complain about advertisements broadcast on RTÉ may also complain to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI).
Outline of Complaints 2018
In 2018, 52 complaints were made to the BAI regarding RTÉ programmes, 2 of which were partly upheld.
The 52 complaints to the BAI are broken down as follows:
Output Area (No. of Complaint Referrals)
Radio programmes (4)
Television programmes (16)
News & Current Affairs (Television) (14)
News & Current Affairs (Radio) (9)
The programmes with the most complaints were:
The Late Late Show (11)
Claire Byrne Live (8)
The complaints which were party upheld by the BAI were:
- Six One News, RTÉ One (BAI Ref 19/18); Decision 23rd January, 2018
- Eoghan McDermott Show, RTÉ 2FM (BAI Ref 31/18); Decision 8th March 2018