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Controversial sketch about God removed from RTÉ Player – as broadcaster issues another apology

RTÉ have received thousands of complaints over the mock news report

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A controversial sketch about God has been removed from the RTÉ Player, after the broadcaster received thousands of complaints over it.

During their NYE Countdown Show on RTÉ One, a satirical ‘Waterford Whispers News’ report described God as “the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals”.

After the clip aired, Archbishop Eamon Martin branded the sketch “deeply offensive and blasphemous” on Twitter, and called for it to be removed from the RTÉ Player.

The broadcaster later apologised for causing offence, but the clip was left available to view online.

In a separate statement today, RTÉ promised to remove the video from their online player, after they found the sketch did not comply with their own standards, and broader regulations.

The RTÉ Editorial Standards Board found that the sketch did not comply with the following provisions:

  • The provisions of Section 39 (1) (d) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the BAI Code of Programme Standards in relation to material that causes “undue offence”
  • The provision of Principle 5 in the above Code (Respect for Persons and Groups in Society) regarding “due respect” for religious beliefs

After considering the Board’s findings, RTÉ has vowed to make a voluntary disclosure of non-compliance to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

On top of removing the sketch from the RTÉ Player, RTÉ will request the Editorial Standards Board to review the processes involved in the broadcast and report on same.

RTÉ’s statement added: “It is RTÉ’s view that satire is an important part of the offering to our audience. However, satire, no more than any other aspect of our output, must adhere to our own standards and the standards set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the BAI Codes.”

Dee Forbes, the Director General of RTÉ, also commented: “We accept the findings of the Editorial Standards Board that this sketch was not compliant with our own guidelines or with our obligations under the relevant codes.”

“On behalf of RTÉ, I fully apologise for that. We will now review the processes involved and engage constructively with the BAI.”