RTÉ forced to release copies of correspondence received about their coverage of climate change

Way back in November 2018, Right to Know sought copies of records held by RTÉ relating to how they cover climate change.

We were looking primarily for guidance or policies created for editorial staff on how to approach global warming.

At the time – and today as well – there is a sustained level of criticism of RTÉ’s approach to the climate crisis, how they cover it, and particularly the level of specialist resources allocated to reporting it.

Our request was refused by RTÉ and subsequently appealed to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, who ruled that the information was not environmental.

We disagreed, with this based on the belief that broadcasting is clearly a measure that can affect the environment as outlined in the AIE Regulations.

When a public service broadcaster has very significant TV, radio, and online audiences … of course how they cover climate change issues will have a far-reaching influence on what people know and do when it comes to the environment.

In his judgment, Justice Max Barrett agreed and ordered a fresh decision-making process in light of the fact that broadcasting was clearly a measure for the purposes of our request.

RTÉ has now “without prejudice” released copies of the records, a selection of emails received from the public commenting on their coverage of climate issue.

In correspondence, the public service broadcaster has also indicated that it shouldn’t even have had to deal with such requests for environmental information in the first place.

They have also made repeated spurious attempts to suggest these requests impinge on press freedom, even though we have never – and would never – seek material where that consideration would arise.

So, it is clear this story is not over … and we will keep you posted on developments.