Making the Cut

When is a complaint not a complaint?

When RTÉ broadcast a lighthearted complaint in March about a portrait of Brian Cowen hung in that national gallery, they received nine calls complaining the item was in poor taste.

It’s not clear if the nine includes a call from Eoghan Ó Neachtain, who rang RTÉ director general Cathal Goan at home.

Either way, RTÉ apologised for the item the following day. The apology led to 135 complaints. RTÉ removed the item from its website, leading to a textbook demonstration of the Streisand Effect as the youtube record of the piece got multiple hits.

Then RTÉ defended both the original transmission and the apology before the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

Because of the number of complaints about the apology, the station made one omnibus submission covering all of them, which levelled charges of political interference and a lack of impartiality.

However, complaints are only considered  “when the complainant requests for this to be the case, if a complaint is closed before reaching the Board it means the complainant does not wish for the complaint to be considered.”

For the record then, only two of the complaints about the apology were considered by the board.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.


  1. i actually think there should be a way to make soft complaints to the bcc, , ie not having to name broadcast in order for it to be heard… and for the bcc to give it weight

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