|Created by||RTÉ News and Current Affairs|
|Directed by||David Donaghy|
|Country of origin||Republic of Ireland|
|Producer(s)||Aideen O'Sullivan, Isabel Perceval|
|Location(s)||RTÉ Television Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin|
|Running time||40 minutes|
|Original channel||RTÉ One|
|Picture format||720x576 (1998–present anamorphic 16:9, pre-1998 4:3)|
|Original run||17 September 1992 – present|
|Preceded by||Today Tonight|
|Related shows||Prime Time Investigates
Questions and Answers
Prime Time is a current affairs programme noted for its in-depth analysis of political and other current events. It airs on RTÉ One on Monday at 10.30 & on Tuesday and Thursday nights following the RTÉ Nine O'Clock News.
Prime Time has been broadcast on RTÉ One since 1992. Only one show per week is broadcast during the summer months. In January 2013, Pat Kenny's current affairs show The Frontline ended with its format and presenter subsumed into the Prime Time brand as part of a re-organisation within RTÉ News and Current Affairs.
The programme deals with serious issues current in Ireland and often invites politicians, journalists, commentators and industry representatives to express their opinions live in studio or via satellite link-up from RTÉ's regional studios and abroad. Usually, two or three major stories will be covered, with a report from a correspondent followed by a studio discussion. In special cases the entire programme will be devoted to one topic, and may consist entirely of an in-depth documentary piece from a single reporter. Occasionally an extended edition is broadcast if there is an especially important event in the news, such as general elections.
Debates in front of (and involving) an audience are broadcast usually on Tuesday nights from Prime Time's newly enlarged studio. The first of these aired on Tuesday 5 February 2013, the night of the publication of a report into the Magdalene Laundries.
Prime Time in its original format began on Thursday 17 September 1992. It replaced the popular Today Tonight programme which had been on air since 1980 and which was similar in format to Prime Time. The introduction of the new programme was part of a wider change in current affairs broadcasting by RTÉ. Today Tonight, which had been broadcast from Monday to Thursday, would now be replaced by five very different and distinct types of current affairs programmes which would be broadcast from Sunday to Thursday. These included Farrell on Sunday, a series where Brian Farrell would conduct a series of one-to-one interviews with public figures. Questions and Answers would fill the Monday current affairs slot and would continue with its usual format of a panel of public figures answering questions from the audience. Tuesday File would contain a weekly filmed report. Marketplace, which was previously broadcast on Network 2, would occupy the Wednesday slot and would deal with financial matters, industrial relations, public affairs and business. Prime Time would round off the week's current affairs programming on Thursday evenings.
Mary Raftery's Prime Time special "Cardinal Secrets" was broadcast in 2002. It led to the setting up of the Murphy Commission of Investigation into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese which published the Murphy Report in 2009.
Prime Time is currently presented by one or two people from the following panel:
- Claire Byrne (having covered for the usual presenters on several occasions during 2012, Byrne was invited to join the presenting team)
- George Lee (left his post as RTÉ's Economics Editor for a brief spell as a Fine Gael TD when he was replaced by Sean Whelan; he returned to the Current Affairs division proper, joining Prime Time to report on economics)
- David McCullagh
- Miriam O'Callaghan
- Vincent Browne 2000–2001
- Richard Crowley (originally reported for the show in his role as a foreign correspondent, replaced Mark Little as a presenter and left the show to return to radio work in the wake of the Fr. Kevin Reynolds defamation case in which his partner Aoife Kavanagh was implicated)
- Donogh Diamond (joined as a reporter, often covered for the main presenters and is now the show's editor)
- Brian Farrell 1997–2004
- Pat Kenny 2012-2013 (having presented one edition in 2012 when all usual presenters were unavailable, Kenny joined the show when his former show The Frontline was subsumed into Prime Time)
- Éamonn Lawlor 1996–1999
- Mark Little 2002–2009 (left RTÉ to set up his new social media journalism venture Storyful)
- Michael McMillan 1994–1996
- Olivia O'Leary 1992–1994
- Keelin Shanley (joined as a reporter, rose to the role of presenter, moved on the present morning news show Morning Edition)
- Kevin Burns
- Mark Coughlan
- Barry Cummins
- Katie Hannon
- Ian Kehoe
- Adrian Lydon
- Paul Maguire
- Paul Murphy
- Eithne O'Brien
- Barry O'Kelly* Robert Shortt
- Rita O'Reilly
- Oonagh Smyth
- Aoife Kavanagh (resigned RTÉ in light of her involvement in the "Mission To Prey" episode of Prime Time Investigates)
- Kevin Rafter
Mission to Prey
A spin-off series, Prime Time Investigates, used to be shown on Monday nights in short seasons of four to six episodes, featuring investigative journalism and undercover reporting. The series suspended in 2011 after RTÉ's Aoife Kavanagh defamed Fr. Kevin Reynolds in an episode aired on RTÉ One with the title, "Mission to Prey", during which Kavanagh falsely accused Fr. Kevin Reynolds of raping a woman and fathering a child in Kenya. Director-General of RTÉ Noel Curran admitted the broadcasting of "Mission to Prey" was "one of the gravest editorial mistakes ever made" at RTÉ.
The show was officially cancelled by RTÉ director-general Noel Curran on 4 April 2012. RTÉ was fined €200,000 by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) as a result of the defamation of Fr Kevin Reynolds following what the BAI said were serious breaches of the Broadcasting Act 2009. Its report found that "Second-hand repetition of gossip appears to have been treated as corroboration, as Ms Kavanagh did not appear to have met or questioned colleagues who according to the primary source, were aware of the allegations". Aoife Kavanagh resigned from RTÉ on 4 May 2012.
Meath East by-election debate
On 25 March 2013, a Prime Time television debate held ahead of the 2013 Meath East by-election featured the candidates from the four parties RTÉ perceived to be the front-runners: Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Excluded were all other candidates, including the Green Party and Workers' Party candidates—as well as Direct Democracy Ireland's Ben Gilroy, who finished fourth ahead of Labour.
Workers' Party candidate Seamus McDonagh said the Prime Time editor had no "consistent criteria" for this decision, and criticised the lack of an invitation to even sit in the audience despite having, he said, the support of several TDs including Richard Boyd Barrett, John Halligan, Finian McGrath and Thomas Pringle. DDI's Ben Gilroy said RTÉ "just basically ignored us completely."
- Susan Mitchell (3 July 2005). "Prime-time couple". The Sunday Business Post (TCH Archives). Retrieved 21 December 2009.
- Laura Butler and Ken Sweeney (25 October 2012). "New lease of life for George Lee as Richard Crowley quits Prime Time". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- "All eyes on tonight's revamped Prime Time as O'Callaghan and Kenny to co-host first show". Irish Independent. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Tonight's Prime Time, which is live before a studio audience, looks at the big story of the day – the report into the Magdalen Laundries which has found a "significant" level of State involvement in sending women to these "lonely and frightening" places". Prime Time. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Journalist Mary Raftery dies aged 54". RTÉ News. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- Kevin Doyle (17 December 2009). "It's Mark's last time on Prime Time in TV gamble". Evening Herald. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
- Katie Hannon. "Katie Hannon". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- David Medcalf (12 October 2010). "Ian lands Prime Time spot". Enniscorthy Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Paul Maguire. "Paul Maguire". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Eithne O'Brien. "Eithne O'Brien". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Barry O'Kelly. "Barry O'Kelly". LinkedIn. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Rita O'Reilly. "Rita O'Reilly". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Aoife Kavanagh: Journalist who made the headlines". Irish Independent. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- McGreevy, Ronan (23 November 2011). "Reporter's broadcasts in wake of libel finding 'unfair'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- "Taoiseach cites 'grievous drop' in RTE standards over Fr Reynolds libel case". BBC News. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Cullen, Paul; McGreevy, Ronan (23 November 2011). "RTÉ shelves investigative series and concedes 'grave mistake'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- "RTÉ Axes ‘Prime Time Investigates’". IFTN. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- "BAI finds 'significant failure of editorial and managerial controls' at RTÉ". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Report criticises RTE journalism standards". BBC News (BBC). 4 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Sweeping assumptions raise concerns". The Irish Times. 5 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Mission to Prey reporter Aoife Kavanagh resigns from RTÉ". The Journal. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Prime Time criticised as candidates excluded from Meath East debate". The Journal. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.