RTE deliberately cut out People Before Profit Euro candidate from media report in effort to damage her Campaign
People Before Profit’s Dublin Euro Election candidate, Bríd Smith, today accused RTE of deliberately cutting her out from its media report of the Sunday Business Post/Red Sea poll on last night’s 9 o’clock news in effort to damage her campaign.
Cllr. Smith has lodged an official complaint with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) where she claims that RTE is in breach of its statutory duty to be fair, impartial and objective in its coverage of elections. The BAI code explicitly mandates RTE to adhere to the principles of “Objectivity and Impartiality”. Furthermore, under “Compliance and Assessment” they are not only obliged to respect the rules but also “the spirit as well as the letter” of the requirements.
This decision by RTE is a serious breach of the law and could reasonably be viewed as an attempt by the State broadcaster to influence public opinion during an election campaign.
RTE’s coverage of yesterday’s opinion poll breaches all these requirements as RTE took an arbitrary decision to cut Cllr. Smith out of the result of the opinion poll which showed that she was running at 9%. Apart from the fact that this puts her in with a fair chance of success, depending on transfers, RTE’s decision has done considerable damage to her campaign by its impact on public opinion.
RTE failure to accurately report the poll is especially problematic given that Cllr. Bríd Smith’s support has risen by 4% (from 5% as reported in the Sunday Independent/ Millward Brown on 27 April 2014) in the first week of the campaign. This is the biggest increase of any candidate and represents a real and significant surge in support.
Cllr. Smith commented: “RTE’s decision last night to cut out both myself at 9% and Paul Murphy at 7% (with whom I have an electoral transfer pact) is an arbitrary decision that cannot stand up to scrutiny. It is also extremely damaging to those effected, like myself, as it gives voters an impression that there are only a couple of ‘serious’ contenders and that the rest of us have no chance of success and so voters may opt for others.
“RTE is prohibited from getting involved in any efforts to influence how people vote and this is a clear breach of that rule so it now has very serious questions to answer. I want to know: Why did they decide to just stop at 10%? Who made this decision? How was this decision arrived at?