It is crucial that RTE’s new Register of Interests for any paid for external promotional or sponsorship work events undertaken by RTE on air staff be made available to the public, a Fine Gael TD has said.
The Galway East TD made his remarks following weekend media reports that the Register of Interests may not be accessible to the public.
“I understand that the NUJ’s General Secretary, Mr. Séamus Dooley stated that he doesn’t see this as being a public document. He made a distinction between a register for politicians being in the public interest, saying that the interests of journalists should be made available to the employer, but not necessarily to the public,” he outlined.
“I think that Mr. Dooley is referring to a Register of Interests for RTE staff that would be similar to the SIPO Register – that is not what is required here.
“Since the RTÉ payments story first broke, I have been clear – if any broadcaster, whether permanent or contract, is receiving payments from any corporate entity, then the public must know, so that we can determine for ourselves whether that broadcaster can be trusted to be impartial when speaking on particular matters.
“The publication of this Register of Interest is critical if public trust in RTE is to be restored and that they are to be reassured that the highest standards of journalism and public service broadcasting are being achieved.
“RTE needs to model its register on the BBC’s register. The BBC register requires on-air talent in news and current affairs, sports news and radio journalism roles to declare earnings from work undertaken outside of the BBC, including speaking engagements or corporate events. Senior leaders are also required to declare any external engagements and seek written approval from a divisional head of department before signing up to them.
“This register is updated and published on a monthly basis, so members of the public can see any corporate involvement presenters have outside of their BBC role. Tim Davie, the BBC Director General took up his role in September 2020. He established the register within a couple of months of his new tenure and its first publication featured all engagements from January 2021.
“RTE Director General Kevin Bakhurst has been forthright in stressing the importance of a register. In terms of the deep reforms needed within RTE, this is an important opportunity for him to hit the ground running,” Deputy Cannon concluded.