Irish national broadcaster RTÉ admitted that The Ryan Tubridy Show should have been more specific that the Wednesday programme, which was broadcast live from the Cheltenham Festival, was actually sponsored by gambling operator Paddy Power.
It became known that the Dublin-based gambling company had approached the RTÉ Radio 1 show with an offer to sponsor the Wednesday programme and to pay for host Ryan Tubridy and members of his team’s trip to Cheltenham. As part of the sponsorship, Paddy Power also sent several lucky winners to the popular horse racing festival.
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The Wednesday programme featured an interview with the company’s spokesman – Paddy Power. However, the popular talk radio show did not clarify that the programme was actually funded by the operator and thus drew criticism from politicians and organizations working with problem gamblers.
The Problem Gambling Ireland charity slammed the host and the show, calling the interview with Paddy Power a “puff piece”. Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers criticized the segment, saying that it was a “cushy arrangement” and that it risked normalizing gambling at a time when problem gambling rates in the country are rising. According to latest data, about 40,000 Irish people are showing signs of problem gambling behavior.
Following the Wednesday programme, a RTÉ spokesperson defended the talk radio show, clarifying that it had informed listeners that the Cheltenham programme would be sponsored by Paddy Power the week before during a segment that had too been sponsored by the gambling operator. The broadcaster also pointed out that the Wednesday interview did not aim to promote Paddy Power’s services.
RTÉ’s Most Recent Response
In a statement from last night, the broadcaster admitted that listeners should have been informed about the Paddy Power sponsorship during the Wednesday programme.
When asked about the promotion’s cost, a RTÉ spokesperson said last night that they could not disclose it as information of this nature was commercially sensitive. However, they confirmed that standard terms and conditions applied and that the promotion included sending lucky winners to the Cheltenham festival.
Barry Grant, Chief Executive of Problem Gambling Ireland, has told media that the possibility for filing a complaint with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland over the Wednesday Paddy Power segment was under consideration within the charity. He has further commented that as the national broadcaster, RTÉ needs to be more transparent about the source of funding of one programme or another.
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The gambling industry in both the UK and Ireland has been under fire for years now, as politicians and anti-gambling lobbyists have been raising concerns over the growing cases of people suffering from gambling addiction or at least showing signs of problem gambling behavior. In the UK, the Government is preparing a crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals, gambling machines that are particularly popular with customers but blasted for their addictive nature. And in Ireland, talks for the introduction of modernized and gambler-oriented laws seem to be progressing.