The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) has complained to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland about an RTÉ Investigates documentary, which reported that 6,000 dogs are culled every year due to excessive breeding.
The complaint alleges that the broadcaster failed to comply with its obligation under the Broadcasting Act 2009 to report on current affairs in an “objective and impartial manner”.
It also claims that the programme contained a “large number” of “factual inaccuracies and mistruths”, and outlines more than 20 specific grievances over the course of a seven-page letter.
The correspondence, signed by IGB CEO Gerard Dollard, was released under the Freedom of Information Act. It acknowledges that RTÉ invited the greyhound racing authority to participate in an interview for the programme.
“However, based on the thrust of the questions provided and editorial approach that was being pursued, we took the correct decision for greyhound racing in Ireland not to participate,” he explains.
“We would have been put into a defensive position which, in the context of the significant and considerable work we do for greyhound welfare, would have been unfair to us and the industry as a whole.”
The letter of complaint was originally submitted directly to RTÉ on July 15, two weeks after the documentary was broadcast. It was subsequently referred to the Broadcasting Authority (BAI) after the IGB was dissatisfied with RTÉ’s response.
In its response to the complaint, RTÉ stated that it “stands over” its coverage of the industry, and said the programme had been a “comprehensive, factual investigation into practices in the industry”.
It also responded to a number of specific points, including the IGB’s claim that an expert who was interviewed for the programme was the partner of a current affairs journalist at RTÉ.
The broadcaster outlined the expert’s credentials and established expertise in the relevant area, which made their contribution “appropriate for inclusion”.
It also replied to criticism of the fact that the programme claimed a greyhound’s racing career typically lasts just seven months. Mr Dollard had disputed this, but RTÉ referred to the IGB’s own report, which stated that the average time in active dog pool racing for each greyhound was 6.92 months.
RTÉ’s response to the complaint maintained that the programme complied fully with all the relevant statutory and regulatory codes, and served the public interest, according to the correspondence.
In its letter to RTÉ, the IGB called on the broadcaster to “withdraw” the programme on the basis of the “failures” it had outlined, and requested that suitable measures be put in place to “ameliorate” the severe impact that the documentary had had on the industry.
A spokesperson for RTÉ said it had responded to the BAI following the IGB’s referral of the complaint. “This is now a matter to be determined by the BAI. A spokesperson for the IGB confirmed that its complaint “is currently with the BAI for adjudication”.