— RTE says it was “aimed firmly in the light entertainment category”.
Two cycling campaign groups have said that RTE has missed the point of complaints about a segment aired about “binning” “arrogant cyclists” on last Friday’s Late Late Show.
RTE said that the item — which resulted in a helmet being symbolically being binned to what presenter Ryan Tubridy said represented “cyclist two or three abreast” — was “aimed firmly in the light entertainment category”.
Maura Derrane, a guest on the show who is an RTE presenter on a different show, Today with Maura and Daithí, said last Friday that she liked cyclists but said that it’s “nearly like” cyclists who cycle beside each other on rural roads “do it it to piss people off”.
Katherine Drohan, series producer of the Late Late Show, said: “At no point did Ms Derrane or any of the other contributors condemn all cyclists or urge the ‘binning’ of cycling itself. The item was not a serious discussion on road use or traffic safety, nor was it in any way meant to reflect a position by RTÉ, Ms Derrane or The Late Late Show on the issue of general cycling safety.”
Drohan made the comments in an email reply to some people who complained about the show — her full email is quoted below.
Kiaran Ryan, spokesman for the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said the group was still awaiting a response but have seen the response to others and that they are “not very hopeful that RTE has understood why so many people are angry about this.”
Ryan said: “The reply from Ms Drohan attempts to contextualise the ‘arrogant cyclists’ comments by referring to other topics that were covered in the segment, such as ‘raisins’ and “Ryan Tubridy’s enthusiasm on the Late Late Toy Show”. However, it is this very context that trivialised a serious road safety issue and caused so much offence in the first place.”
“The interaction between drivers and cyclists is an extremely serious topic. It resulted in 15 fatalities on our roads in 2017 alone. There is open contempt for cyclists amongst some drivers and most cyclists have, at some stage, been on the receiving end of impatient or aggressive driving behaviour,” he added.
Ryan added: “Last Friday’s Late Late Show light-heartedly reinforced the false notion that cyclists have less right to be on the road than drivers, and in doing so it potentially made cycling in Ireland more dangerous.”
Ciaran Ferrie, a spokesman for I Bike Dublin campaign group, said: “RTÉ have responded to the effect that it was just a joke and not a serious discussion on road safety and that this somehow makes it acceptable.”
Ferrie said: “RTÉ have missed the point of the complaints. The symbolic act of throwing a cycle helmet into the bin, so soon after the Road Safety Authority reported a 50% increase in the deaths of people cycling, was ill-judged and crass. It was also very hurtful to the families of people who have been killed while cycling. While this segment may have been intended to be light-hearted, it feeds into an all too prevalent hateful attitude towards people who chose to cycle.”
“The Late Late Show holds a position of particular importance in the Irish television landscape and RTE has a duty of care to broadcast in a responsible manner due to its ability to influence the public opinion. This duty is enshrined in the Code of Conduct of the Broadcasting Authority which notes that ‘Programme material shall not stigmatise, support or condone discrimination, or incite hatred against persons or groups in society.’ It is clear that the Late Late Show has contravened the Code of Conduct in this regard.”
“I Bike Dublin calls on RTÉ to broadcast a formal apology for the hurt caused by the segment. The apology should clarify that it is perfectly legal to cycle two abreast on Irish roads and is, in fact, the safest way to cycle in groups,” said Ferrie.
He added: “The apology should also note that the Road Safety Authority recommends that drivers give a minimum of 1.5m clearance when passing people cycling and that legislation to this effect is due to come before the Oireachtas later this year.”
— Dublin Cycling (@dublincycling) January 12, 2018
Full response emailed from Katherine Drohan, series producer of the Late Late Show, to a number of viewers who complained:
Thank you for your email in relation to the Late Late Show of 12th January 2018, which has been passed to me for reply.
The item to which you refer took place in part three of the show and was a comedic and light hearted look at things the panellists wanted to “bin” for the new year. Items to be binned included Ryan Tubridy’s enthusiasm for children and toys on the Toy Show as well as raisins which the panellist described as “devil’s droppings”
It was in this context that one of the panellists, Maura Derrane wished to put “arrogant cyclists” in the bin. Her primary concern as she said was “ I like cycling but there is one thing that really bothers me – three or four cyclists abreast on a country road.”
To be clear, Ms Derrane several times reiterated (and I quote) “Not cyclists, I like cyclists, don’t get me wrong. It’s arrogant cyclists.. ”
At no point did Ms Derrane or any of the other contributors condemn all cyclists or urge the “binning” of cycling itself. The item was not a serious discussion on road use or traffic safety, nor was it in any way meant to reflect a position by RTÉ, Ms. Derrane or The Late Late Show on the issue of general cycling safety.
As you are aware the Late Late Show has a range of topics, discussions, guests and items on every week, from the very serious to the comedic and the panel discussion to which you refer was aimed firmly in the light entertainment category. In this case, we obviously failed to entertain you, and for that I apologise, but it certainly was not our intention to offend or demonise all cyclists, but rather to put a range of provocative and entertaining topics to the panel for them to discuss.
RTÉ has a long history of working closely with the Road Safety Authority and other bodies to improve road safety for all users and takes its public service responsibilities in this regard very seriously. The item in question on the Late Late Show was not of that type.
Thank you for watching and for taking the time to write to us with your views. They are appreciated and valued.
If any member of the public is of the opinion that a programme or segment of a programme broadcast on RTÉ has breached a provision of Section 39(1)(a), (b), (d) or (e) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 or failed to comply with a provision of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Codes and is not satisfied with RTÉ’s response they are entitled to make a complaint to the BAI. Information on codes and on the complaints procedure can be found on the BAI website at http://www.bai.ie/en/viewers-listeners/complaints/.