After its bias towards SF and Labour in 2011 RTÉ is sticking to regulations for #GE16

With feverish speculation about dirty tricks coming up in the final week of the campaign, Sinn Fein launches a brilliant let “Sinn Fein speak” campaign against RTE for not publishing interviews or coming to some of their press conferences…

Sound familiar? Fionnan Sheahan reckons it’s a repeat of a 2011 tactic when Sinn Fein pressurised RTE into breaking its own guidelines and giving themselves and Irish Labour too much coverage:

Sinn Féin doesn’t like the amount of coverage it has been getting on RTÉ. Neither does it like the party’s stance of abolishing the Special Criminal Court featuring.

The party doesn’t seem to realise the national broadcaster is obliged to cover the topical issues of the day on its news bulletins – not just pump out its propaganda.

For a party which objected to Section 31 censorship of the Provos during the Troubles, it now, ironically, wants to dictate what can and cannot be covered.

Sheahan is drawing from a well documented paper published in the Irish Political Studies journal by Kevin Rafter of DCU, according to which monitoring data from 2011 which showed that both parties swallowed far more airtime than their respective support allowed:

  • Fianna Fail in the 30–31 per cent range (guideline 31 per
    cent);
  • Fine Gael in the 25–27 per cent range (guideline 27 per cent);
  • Labour in the 20–25 per cent range (guideline 13 per cent);
  • Sinn Fein in the range 9–12 per cent (guideline
    seven per cent);
  • Greens in the five-to-eight per cent range (guideline five per cent);
  • Others/independents three-to-eight per cent (guideline 18 per cent).

Hardly surprising Sinn Fein are trying the same trick again. But nor is it surprising that RTE are knocking them back so firmly this time. 

Intriguingly although he was invited to Vincent Browne’s Peoples Debate in Dundalk last night, Gerry Adams declined to come along. Given the forensic level of detail of Browne’s questioning on the Slab Murphy case that too is hardly surprising.

More surprising perhaps is his refusal to be interviewed by Matt Cooper, a highly regarded prime time presenter of Today FM’s Last Word. 

Anyhoo, this morning RTE did broadcast an interview with Gerry Adams by Sean O’Rourke… 

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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