RTE cuts live coverage of bailout

Last night, during one of the most significant press conferences in the history of the Irish State, while Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan officially announced the detail of the bailout, predictably enough the Irish twitter stream erupted like nothing I’ve seen before.

The near homogeneous fury was of course channelled in the direction of Brian Cowen et al. However, between the hours of approx 7.45pm and 9.30pm RTE appeared to do its best to somehow join Fianna Fail on the stage of pantomime villainy. If you were able to take a digital snapshot of the number of seething digital torch and pitch-fork wielding ‘villagers’ last night, it wouldn’t be far from the truth the estimate that more of them were stood in Donnybrook rather than Merrion Street.

If you weren’t watching the RTE coverage of the ‘live’ press conference, you’re probably wondering what’s going on. Cowen was apparently set to address the media at 7pm, but as 7 o’clock came and went, the new time of 8.15pm began to circulate through twitter (originating it seemed from RTE’s own stream). Those who tuned into the state broadcaster’s flagship channel at that time were bemused to find instead Sunday night’s episode of Fair City.

Cowen and Lenihan finally appeared at 8.30pm, which RTE 1 did carry with it seemed a 15 second delay. After the announcements, the floor was opened to the media, who (save for a gentleman from Bloomberg) gently jabbed at Cowen. However as 9pm approached and one Vincent Browne of TV3 finally began grilling Brian Cowen, RTE suddenly cut off all live coverage in favour of the 9pm news.

To put it into context, as one of the most significant live news events in Irish broadcast history was unfolding before our eyes, the state broadcaster decided that the TV schedule was of more importance than maintaining coverage of the bailout. The  majority of Irish license payers it seemed, turned over to BBC News and Sky News to keep watching. Twitter erupted, with people like former director of TV at RTE Helen O’Rahilly claiming

Sorry, I was Director of TV in RTE……I would resign rather than cut this live feed on national TV………

Disgraceful. What the F***? A MASSIVE MOMENT IN IRISH HISTORY AND THEY CUT IT ON RTE? I am ashamed I worked there.

If RTE cut from the live feed of that conference, it is truly a scandal…….A MOMENTOUS DAY IN IRELAND…… An explanation please.

For those who didn’t see Vincent Browne take on Cowen. Here it is:

As I post this, I’d say it’s a fair wager that whoever manages the inbox of the complaints department in RTE will be negotiating a far greater volume of fury from the general public than anyone in government buildings. Which is in itself to some extent troubling and a distraction from the real issue at hand.

Tyrone based journalist for the Ulster Herald/Tyrone Herald.

I also tweet @AldousDuke and blog at aldousduke.wordpress.com

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