Saturday 22 October 2016

Gay show host quits RTE after bosses says 'don't discuss the vote'

Scott De Buitléir
Scott De Buitléir

A GAY broadcaster has quit his radio show on RTE due to the national broadcaster’s neutrality guidelines.

Scott de Butleir had presented The Cosmo on digital channel RTE Pulse for more than six years before he quit yesterday.

The Clontarf native revealed that running a show about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues had “become close to impossible” as “RTE has been keen to ensure that they cannot be seen as being biased towards either side of the issue”.

Management at the national broadcaster warned all staff, freelancers and production companies back in March against expressing their views on the referendum on social media.

READ MORE: 'Poster row couple are delighted we know they’d vote ‘Yes’'

The Herald revealed that RTE forced TV presenter Eoghan McDermott to pull out of a ‘Say Yes to Love’ event due to their neutrality guidelines. Now Scott has spoken of how he has quit because of the neutrality rules.

“I realised that I was in a very unique situation where I was presenting RTE’s only LGBT radio show,” he said.

“While I appreciate that RTE needed high-profile people to stay neutral, it was so counter-intuitive to ask me to stay neutral on something that affects me both professionally – as the host of the show – and personally as an openly gay broadcaster.”

Mr de Butleir (27) said RTE strongly advised him not to discuss the referendum on his show but were allowing him to hold one debate the week before the ballot.

READ MORE: 'We don't want to be civil partners - we want to be married' say Alan Hughes and Karl Broderick

“They wanted me to be silent on their only LGBT radio show.

“Avoiding the issue until such a debate would’ve made a mockery of any LGBT programme, which is undoubtedly pro-equality by default.

“It would also have made a mockery of me personally as an openly gay broadcaster and an advocate of equality for all,” he said.

“As for a debate, well, let’s face it: RTE has already been broadcasting plenty of debates on the issue lately.

“Whether or not they have been balanced is a question for someone else to answer.

“My personal feeling is that certain ‘No’ campaigners have been given more national media attention than they are due,” he added.

Mr de Butleir said that he felt no-one in RTE was listening to his show and only became concerned with his content coming up to the referendum.

“I have been talking to various groups like Yes Equality, Marriage Equality and GLEN regularly for the past year and a half about this referendum and it’s only been in the last two months that RTE have been so nervous about the situation,” he said.

“I was left thinking, ‘Did RTE not realise this was going on anyway?’

“To ask me not to do content when I’ve been doing it for years makes me wonder if any of them have been paying attention to what I’ve been doing,” he added.

The “final straw” for Scott was when RTE chiefs were “furious” when he asked Minister Aodhan O’Riordain about the referendum on his show on Wednesday night.

“I asked him about his experience talking to people about the referendum so far – it wasn’t asking for his opinion – and we also talked about other things,” he said.

“It wasn’t entirely about marriage equality but once RTE heard the interview they were furious.


“Avoiding discussing the

referendum has damaged the last six years of me presenting the show, which I did voluntarily because digital radio doesn’t pay.

“I’ve been spending my time trying to discuss and elevate issues within the LGBT community in Ireland on national radio and I feel the last few weeks have done all that work a massive disservice and a dishonour.

“I’m sad to have left but I’d rather have a bit of dignity than have the title of a broadcaster and not be true to myself,” Scott said.

When approached for comment, Head of 2fm Dan Healy said: “RTE confirms that Scott De Buitleir has decided to leave RTE Pulse after six years.

“The Cosmo, presented by Scott De Buitleir, has been part of RTE Pulse’s schedule since the station launched in 2008.

“Scott has played some great dance music over the years. We wish him every success in the future,” he added.

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