RTÉ confirms that it has received complaints about Claire Byrne Live abortion referendum debate

RTÉ has confirmed that it has received a number of complaints about Claire Byrne Live Abortion referendum debate.

The weekly current affairs programme hosted a panel discussion on the upcoming referendum last night and during the show, viewers took to Twitter to complain about the conduct of the audience during the debate.

The majority of people felt that the heckling, sniggering and laughing was disruptive and disrespectful with such a sensitive topic in question.

In a statement, RTÉ has confirmed that it has received complaints but in the interests of respect for the referendum process, the release of exact figures on complaints received about its coverage of the campaign will be deferred until after polling day.

The broadcaster also went on to say that the programme gave “an equal opportunity” for both sides to air their arguments, which both sides did “passionately and trenchantly”.

“Impartial analysis of Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special will show that when the number of speakers on each side of the referendum question and the airtime afforded to them are both taken into account, the programme gave an equitable and fair opportunity to both sides to express their views,” a spokesperson said.

“While the programme did its best to include as many voices as it could, it was not possible to speak to everyone and it was made clear to every audience member in advance that there was no guarantee they would get to speak on the programme”

650,000 viewers tuned in at some point during the programme with the average audience increasing by up to 53% as the broadcast continued.

359,000 viewers on average watched the full hour and a half programme live on RTÉ One, with additional viewers watching on RTÉ One + 1, RTÉ News Now and the RTÉ Player.

By Anna O'Donoghue

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