RTÉ’s New Year’s Eve sketch, which depicted God being arrested for sexual assault, did not comply with the broadcaster’s own standards and regulations, RTÉ said today.
In a statement, the national broadcaster said its Editorial Standards Board found that the sketch was not in line with a number of their provisions.
These included Section 39 (1) (d) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the BAI Code of Programme Standards in relation to material that causes “undue offence”.
It also did not show”due respect” for religious beliefs, according to provision of Principle 5 in the above Code, which deals with ‘Respect for Persons and Groups in Society’.
The RTÉ Editorial Standards Board also found that the sketch was not in compliance with the provision in the RTÉ Journalism & Content Guidelines concerning sensitivity to people’s religious beliefs.
On the back of this, RTÉ decided it will make a disclosure of non-compliance to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and engage with the authority in the process.
The Editorial Standards Board is required to review the processes involved in the broadcast and report on them. RTÉ will also remove the sketch from the RTÉ Player.
In the statement, RTÉ said its view was that satire “is an important part of the offering to our audience”.
It added: “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 said: “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.”
This comes after nearly 5000 complaints were logged to the broadcaster regarding the sketch.