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.

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  • pippakin

    The good thing is we can complain so quickly now. It, as any twitterer or computer nurd will tell you doesn’t even interrupt the viewer.

    RTE are supposed to be unbiased servants of the people, not slavish followers of FF. Perhaps RTE need some restructuring..

    Vincent Browne asked the only ‘difficult’ questions. It comes to something when you have to switch to the BBC or Sky to get full coverage of the most important press conference since independence.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Pip, throughout this crisis the last place you would turn to for information was RTE, the Tasmanian Herald website probably gave more accurate information.

  • Wilde Rover

    Final straw really.

    One course of action is a nationwide campaign to refuse to pay the TV licence.

  • pippakin


    Well yes! but I think this was the most important press conference in the history of the state and RTE are the state broadcasting company, getting a hundred MILLION or so.

    The press conference should have been shown in full and the nasty suspicion many of us have that it was cut because Vincent Browne was doing his job and asking awkward questions, is inexcusable.

    I honestly believe the immediate, strong reaction, even though most of us obviously just switched channels, was good for RTE.

  • Jean Meslier

    Ignominy of the highest order.
    A system based on a giant pyramid scheme, where they stood in the Fianna Failure tent at the Galway Races and boasted about the inflated value of bricks and mortar.
    Who ridiculed those who forewarned the inevitable crash as “illiterates”.
    Who even last Sunday were saying there was no outside intervention required “Comical Ali” style as ordinary citizens heard the German accents in the background .
    And whilst Euro News, Sky, CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC showed Biffo standing brass-necked at the podium they got their friends in RTE to carry on regardless.

    These people have negated any right to govern. It is time for a new way. It is time for a progressive, left leaning, coalition to replace the interests of the bankers/developers/greedy bastards that have controlled this former priest ridden state since the mid 80’s

  • RepublicanStones

    If you were able to take a digital snapshot of the number of seething digital torch and pitch-fork wielding ‘villagers’ last night…

    Thats both the beauty and the beast of new media, the ability to rabble rouse in an instant, perfectly exemplified most recently in the Jan Moir incident. Last night however, there would have been no need for the Charlie Brookers or Stephen Frys to rustle up a posse. People are rightfully outraged and RTE has a lot of explaining to do. Wilde’s suggestion seems more than suitable.

  • pippakin

    I’m wondering if there is at the back of many peoples mind the nagging suspicion that it was not just contempt for the people but contempt for their intelligence as well.

    Is it a lingering thought in some minds that we will obey anyone in a suit because sure we don’t know any better?

  • Cynic

    Do get some perspective guys. Yes its critically important but noone is dead (except politically) Its only money and it cannot make you pregnant.

  • pippakin


    Money is one thing and as a result of their incompetence FF are toast, but no state broadcasting company should be seen to be so obviously biased. It went beyond money to the real heart of independence. Last night on twitter RTE were being renamed PRAVDA by some…

  • Cynic

    And many people want to blame FF. Fine. But the elephant in the corner is that it was Irish people who stoked the boom and took on the debt, The mad bankers and the Government let (nay, encouraged) them ……. but it was obvious – yes obvious – to anyone looking in from outside that this was madness.

    Ireland is a small country with a very small population. It is land rich yet prices were soaring to incredible levels. The driver in that was both demand and manipulation of the planning controls at local level.

    Now its claimed that this has impinged on Irish sovereignty. No it hasn’t. Ireland voted that bit of sovereignty away when it signed the Lisbon treaty and joined the Euro. Thats what being in the EU means and that why the ECB has helped Ireland out of this mess.

    Until yesterday did noone in Ireland hear the phrase ‘economic and political union’ or notice that there were both economic and political dimensions to this?

    Politics for slow learners V2?

  • Cynic

    yeah progressive and left leaning is just what Ireland needs to totally bugger up what’s left of the economy. But the bills still have to be paid.

  • Well done that Vincent! In passing, what was the Blomberg business?

    Even so, even RTÉ operates more than one channel: even if RTÉ1 could, just about, be argued as the “entertainment” channel, there should have been bandwidth for the bloodshed elsewhere. I assume it ran on radio?

    Meanwhile, not so long ago, in a galaxy very close by, other star whores are falling out.

    George Osborne has been exposed as the meretricious, mendacious political tart we all guessed him to be. The usual eurosceptic suspects (John Redwood, Douglas Carswell, the massed ranks of the Adam Smith Institute … can the nominative-determined Bill Cash be far behind?) are sniffing blood. The fall-out of this one will be immense; and it won’t be confined to the environs of Kildare Street.

    Doncha just lurve it! Ginger! Get the pop-corn! [That one exclusively for recovering West Wing addicts.]

  • If we really do have an emergency in this country now – and we do, I believe – isn’t it time to tackle the maximum wage first and cap the salary paid to our politicians, bankers, senior civil servants and tax avoiding RTÉ presenters at €100k – that’s no mean salary. If people don’t like such a cut, maybe they should test the market and see if companies are willing to pay more than the new minimum wage.

    At present the politicians are hiding behind the petticoats of the Croke Park Agreement and its pay freeze. The RTE presenters – Kenny, Tubridy et al – are very generous in giving away the pension rights of the elderly – but are using legitimate if immoral tax schemes to shield their own exorbitant salaries from the taxman.

  • DC

    Bono et al too.

  • alley cat

    Take a red face duke slugger was missing in action.

  • I’ve no reason to defend Cowen, but that rant of Vincent Browne’s is pure press demagoguery. It reinforces the view that the problem is rooted in individual incompetence or mendacity when Ireland is now getting the sharp-end of a systemic failure in modern capitalism.

    Why is the coverage of the moment that all of this happened important at all? Moaning about RTE’s coverage of how the bailout is announced really is a spectacular example of missing the wood for the trees.

    Everyone gets a much better perspective if they turn of the 24 hour news and wait for the following morning’s digest.

    This crisis is rooted, at least in part, in the increasing populist taint of politics in which clear thinking is subordinate to the meeting of reflexive demands. Browne, and a large part of his industry, are the cause of that problem – not the deliverance from it.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Excluding doctors and lawyers from your list was merely an oversight, wasn’t it?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Is it just me, or does the whole media and political class in the Republic appear extremely parocial and amatuerish? for example could you see any of the RTE presenters on UTV live never mind ITN news? and the average FF & FG politician makes the UUP look media savvy. Even Catrina sounds more plausable then Cowan did!

  • Cynic

    “a systemic failure in modern capitalism.”

    Depends how you define failure Paul. The reality is that fools and their money were easily parted. The driver was individual greed backed up by managerial incompetence in Government.

    In the UK Brown sold the gold for a pittance, banjaxed the controls in the baking system and then spent more time tying to unseat the PM than managing the economy. No more boom and bust became mega bust.

    In Ireland the formula was slightly different and even more extreme. Rampant cronyism and what looks like systemic corruption at the top of banking were extra factors that pushed the boom bubble to even greater size.

    But at the bottom of it all was us. The greedy voters. Thinking that a boom in house prices would never end and ready to believe any advert for financial snake oil. Now we sit back and cry “It was themuns what done it”. By all means shame on the political class, but shame on us too

    As for poor old capitalism, she’s just doing what she is designed to do. Making sure that capital is used as efficiently as possible. There isn’t a pound or euro less in the world as result of this – they have just been distributed to different places doing different things. Capitalism hasn’t failed. It aint nice or pretty or painless but she’s working very efficiently

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    It is at least partially you.

  • Drumlins Rock

    ack i know that, it is easy to mock other accents etc. but I just cant watch most of the drivel you get on RTE.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    I hope you realise that post-2016 we will have to send you recalcitrant Prods off to Kerry on a 3 day residential re-education course operated by the clergy(Catholic) which will run over the weekend of the 12th July?

  • pippakin

    Paul Evans

    The MSM and the politicians deliver the message, everyone was told everything was hunky dory and they believed it! Big business and top level politicians may have known it was a pack of lies but the fabled ‘plain people’ of Ireland did not.

    RTEs coverage of the press conference was in fact more of the same drivel the MSM and politicians have been delivering for years!.

    Vincent Brown was the one cut off by RTE, no doubt by pure coincidence he was the one asking Cowen the questions the vast majority of people wanted to hear answered.. If that is a rant, tough! What was RTE’s problem did they think the ‘plain people’ of Ireland were too fragile to hear a rant? which btw it was not. Brown sounded angry, he is not alone.

    The key is: it is what the vast majority of people wanted and it is what RTE failed to deliver.

  • DC

    Paul I agree with you with but 520% increases in property prices and land values around Dublin were seriously never ever healthy, neither were some if not most of the property ‘profits’.

    The old clliche of “Stevie Wonder seeing this coming” comes to mind.

    I haven’t been to Dublin in over 5-6 years now, socially excluded and priced out. Will now be able to return soon though I think.

  • DC


  • Jean Meslier

    “..What’s left of the economy..”

    Yes my cynical friend
    what’s left of the economy.
    Thats exactly it.
    This is what the great and the good have left us.

    The people who contribute the most taxes-the PAYE workers- can now see for themslves what the nod and wink boys and the cute hoors have delivered. They have emptied the tank and said tough shit.
    The corner boy, free market experiment has failed.
    We need a fairer, equality structured approach with EVERYONE paying their way. Where the rich tighten their belts first, second and third Cynic.
    No more prioritising cuts among the poor and vulnerable to the advantage of the fat cats.

    Where is the church in this?
    Why are they not quoting the the eye of the needle parable?
    Why are they not calling tax evason or obscene salaries/bonuses a sin?
    I think we know the answer to that one.
    The economy IS buggered.
    The ordinary people left if to the FF/bankers/developers while we were over dosed with Big Brothers X Factors got Talent on Ice.
    It wont happen again

  • DC

    Poor old capitalism my arse.

    The difference at play here is money given upfront to bankers et al released via financial *innovation* inside financial markets versus proper market economy and actual price of things.

    The banks and fiinancial markets were so innovative that the credit financing aka -debt pyramid- collapsed due to its own incompetence; enter the taxpayer to plug the collapsed 2/3rds (I believe 2/3rds is the right proportion of toxic debt needing plugged – well in the UK anyway). Would like to know where the top 1/3rd are now to take the money back off them.

    It was a battle of value over price – but price won, despite value being accepted as real currency as and when it suited the money markets. It doesn’t suit the money markets now because they will have to take a haircut etc, so they want it all to stay as it is and for the toxic loans to be repaid in full.

    Time for the Irish to say to hell with it and bring about a deflationary wave across global markets. Make sure bakerys and soup kitchens are expanded as we speak, but together we will get out of it.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    As I recall the RTE 6.01pm News did say the Taoiseachs Press Conference would be about 7pm and my immediate thought was to check what was on in the period 7pm to 8pm on RTE. I rcall thinking the planned programming would change and was a little surprised that it didnt……but I dont actually see it as incompetence or a conspiracy.
    Just not a decision I would have made.
    As I have only just got used to using Sky Plus, last night was the first time I actually had a real dilemna…at 9pm.

    The solution decide to watch “Garrows Law” on BBC Player today, sky plus Channel 4s “Human Heart” or whatever and watch “Single Handed” live and have a wee lie down before it all to get away from the X Factor.
    So the decision not to carry a live broadcast (I didnt even see the bit before it was cut off) surprises but does not particuarly offend me…….and I am a political and history anorak.
    Besides asking Mrs FJH and two sisters in law to skyplus X Factor while we all watched History in the making was not a good option.

    Lets be frank….before 24 Hour News and before multiple channels were the norm there was the annual outraged Points of View letters from kids annoyed that the BBC Budget coverage over-ran and Scooby Do had to be cancelled. “Dear BBC…………why oh why oh why…….?”
    So frankly a poor decision but not quite the biggie that earlier posts on this thread suggest.
    Strange as it seems ……there would have been more people saying ” whats those gob****** doing on TV” than actually tweeting that the Press Conference should be covered.

  • pippakin


    Capitalism has not failed. No it is thriving.

    Politicians have failed, they exist to protect the people from the worst excesses whatever those excesses are, they failed everywhere, especially here.

  • Alias

    Do all the so-called PIIGS economies have cronyism in common or a common monetary and macroceconomic policy?

    It’s the latter, not the former.

  • pippakin


    Surely if the leader of the country is holding one of the most important press conferences since independence then the state funded, state broadcaster should run it in full?

    It was a poor decision but what is worse is that they obviously assumed they could do it.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh yes a poor decision but not exactly sinister.
    How many of those viewing the X Factor and voting for Mary Whatshername would have switched over to RTE?

    If Mary had lost out to Wagner (did she get thru?……no dont tell me……Im happy being the only peson in world not knowing) there would have been hell to pay.

  • pippakin


    No, not sinister or threatening, just more of the same.

    I don’t watch X Factor either, it is too cringe making for me, so I couldn’t tell you how Mary is doing.

    I do sometimes wonder what happened to Saturday night being the best tv night.

  • Cynic

    “Politicians …….. exist to protect the people from the worst excesses ”

    …… but what if those excesses are self inflicted. It’s no good blaming the banks alone. They were greedy but so were all those people selling land and buying second third or even fourth homes. And those who borrowed and borrowed on the back of the supposedly ever increasing equity in their houses

  • Cynic

    ” one of the most important press conferences since independence”

    Is it really? What about the Civil War? Second world war? etc etc etc

    There is a severe lack of perspective here

  • Cynic

    Probably both.

    The Cronyism made the problem worse though- when your bank can borrow several billion to flatter its year end accounts for example (allegedly) or when little local planning deals can inflate the price of building land beyond all understanding or politicans receive loans or dig outs from property developers, plots of land suddenly get zoned for development etc etc etc

    Ireland isn’t alone in this. Just look at what happened in Marbella, as just one example

  • cynic @ 4:01 PM:

    Two poor comparisons, I’m afraid.

    2RN (which shed its crysalis to emerge as Radio Éireann) started broadcasting at New Year, 1926 (and then only to the precious few in Dublin). You’d be waiting another 26 years for RTÉ. So no tidings of the Civil War there.

    As for any Press Conferences during The Emergency, Frank Aiken, Minister for Co-ordination of Defensive Measures, ran watertight censorship. Some things never change, one might think.

  • pippakin


    Yes! but the climate for it was created and maintained by the politicians, banks etc.

    It is not as though Ireland is alone in the shite. The UK is right there with us, protected at the moment, only by their ability to manoeuvre their own currency, and that may not work for long enough.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I know Sammy, we have been preparing the unionist people for this right after Gerry let it be know there would be a united Ireland by 2016.

  • pippakin


    There was also a complete non existence of comparable MSM back then.

    It is not over the top to expect the state broadcasting company to properly cover an important event.

  • Yes, but in Marbella no fewer than successive civic leaders (Jesús Gil, Julián Muñoz, Marisol Yagüe and Tomás Reñones) went to gaol. Even the Chief of Police was arrested and charged. The local council was, uniquely, quashed.

    Unlike the Irish crisis, Spain cleaned up its act. Only now is Gormley getting cold feet.

  • Sorry: the missing word is obviously “four”.

    Again, unlike dear, dirty Dublin there were (and perhaps still are, for all I know) hundreds of corruption cases lined up for the Spanish courts.

    Now: would anyone like to speculate how many of our local worthies will find themselves wrong side of the slammer door? Silly me: that was sooo easy.

  • Alias

    In addition, was the cronyism common to all Irish banks that failed or just to Anglo?

    The common cause is the common banking system, common central banks, common currency, common regulation, and common monetary and macroeconomic policies.

  • RepublicanStones

    Is the Times trying to incite something or just reporting the laissez-faire attitude of the electorate. Surely that was the problem in the first place…


  • Alias

    Agreed. But ponder this: when your agenda is to transfer power from the people to a central bureaucracy, is it in your interests to promote a politicised citizenship or a de-politicized one?

    Obviously the latter, since you want to strip people of the incentive to seek political changes when your agenda is to strip them of the means of implementing political change, i.e. their democracy and their sovereignty.

    A nation that is to be stripped of democratic powers must also be stripped of the incentive to seek democratic change.
    Hence the nation is pacified and depoliticised, no longer objecting to what your agenda is for them but meekly accepting.

    Excellent work from the europhiles, and the 2.4 billion that the EU spends on propaganda every year paying off.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yep.Mike Yarwood, Morcambe and Wise, Rolf Harris, Val Doonican……..but then we got Little and Large and it went downhill.

  • pippakin


    Yes, they were on on Saturdays and mostly to be avoided but there were other programs, films etc. Or perhaps not…