RTÉ refused a third of Freedom of Information requests

RTÉ refused a third of the Freedom of Information (FOI) requests submitted to the national broadcaster in the first half of this year.

Data shows RTÉ refused 37 out of 108 FOI requests from applicants including journalists, members of the public, and elected representatives, between January and June 2017.

An examination of the broadcaster’s FOI disclosures log shows RTÉ granted either in full or in part, the majority of requests made to it in the first six months of the year.

However, it also declined to provide information on a wide range of issues.

This includes a refusal to divulge how much was paid to controversial British commentator Katie Hopkins for her appearance on The Late Late Show earlier this year.

The list also includes the denial of a request from a business/interest group for documentation relating to the nomination of mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor as RTÉ Sports Personality of the Year 2016.

An application seeking information about whether Louis Walsh was paid for his role in Ireland’s entry to Eurovision 2017 was also denied.

RTÉ was particularly tight-lipped in relation to Dancing with the Stars, with seven FOI applications, relating variously to costs and voting patterns on the light entertainment show, refused by the broadcaster.

Meanwhile, requests for details of correspondence between the State broadcaster and Nama between 2015 and 2017 were also refused, as was an application from a member of the public for details on garda clearance for staff working on programmes involving children.

Other refusals include an application about advertising revenues and costs on The Late Late Show from 2009 to 2017; details of radio and TV airtime afforded Irish MEPs and a request from an Oireachtas member about the decision to maintain the twice-daily broadcast of the Angelus bell.

An RTÉ spokesperson said FOI requests are for the most part refused where they fall under some of the exemptions provided for by the Freedom of Information Act. These include reasons of confidentiality, commercial sensitivity, personal information and data protection law.

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