Express & Star

RTE boss ‘extremely pleased’ as public trust level rises despite controversies

The broadcaster was plunged into crisis in June last year after it admitted understating the fees for its star presenter.

Digital News Report

RTE’s director general Kevin Bakhurst said he is “extremely pleased” that the Irish public’s trust in the broadcaster has risen in the last year, despite the turbulence and controversies within the organisation.

Figures published by Ireland’s media and online regulator, Coimisiun na Mean, in its annual Digital News Report, show that while trust in news is down slightly overall, some media outlets, including RTE, saw a rise in trust levels.

RTE News remains one of the most trusted news sources, with 72% of the public describing it as trustworthy, which is a 1% increase compared to last year.

The level of trust in the Irish Times also increased by 2% and also remains the most trusted media outlet at 72%.

Digital News Report
The launch of Ireland’s online media and broadcast regulator’s Digital News Report (Niall Carson/PA)

Irish people who strongly agree that they can trust most news most of the time has remained relatively stable since 2017.

The number of those who are more sceptical of news has risen by 3% since 2021, while those who are neutral account for just over one in four people.

Ireland’s 46% level of trust in “most of the news most of the time” is high by international standards, and compares with a European average of 39%, a US rate of 32% and a UK rate of 36%.

Mr Bakhurst said that the rise in trust levels in RTE is reflection of the “incredible work” of the news teams.

The broadcaster was plunged into crisis in June last year after it admitted understating the fees for its star presenter and previous top earner Ryan Tubridy.

A series of probing parliamentary committee hearings also uncovered other concerns about culture, governance and financial management at RTE – and there have been several high-profile resignations from the board and executive of the station.

Mr Bakhurst was appointed director general last year.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Bakhurst said: “I am always concerned about the levels of trust, it’s absolutely critical for our news and current affairs.

“I think this is a reflection of the incredible work the teams in current affairs and news have done over the last year, not least at which is holding RTE to account over that period and the audience can see that.

“The audience is incredibly discerning and I think this is a real reflection of the work the teams did at RTE so I am delighted for them.

“I am extremely pleased that the trust has gone up marginally in RTE. It’s at a high level, we remain one of the two most trusted news organisations in Ireland.

“That’s really important.”

He added: “It’s a long road to maintaining and rebuilding trust and the role of news and current affairs is critical.

“As I’ve said to everyone in RTE, it’s day in day out. It’s about the changes in the organisation, it’s about audiences being able to rely on what we put on air and what we put on our platforms.

“My role overall is to make sure we continue to rebuild trust in RTE.”

Elsewhere, the trust in the Irish Independent rose by 1%; Newstalk by 2%; Today FM by 2%; Irish Examiner by 1%; the by 2% – while BBC News, Sky News and Virgin Media News all remain steady.

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