FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan contacted Cathal Goan, the director-general of RTE, to complain about the state broadcaster's coverage of the global banking crisis last Thursday.
The Sunday Tribune has also learned that the government contacted RTE on at least one other occasion in the last fortnight to complain about what it believed was "unbalanced and unsubstantiated commentary" about Irish banks on a number of radio programmes.
Friday's conversation between Lenihan and Goan is understood to have been cordial and constructive. But the finance minister made clear his unhappiness about the treatment of the financial crisis on RTE last Thursday, across a number of programmes. It is believed Lenihan and the government was particularly unhappy about Thursday's Liveline programme on Radio One, which dealt with the security of bank deposits in the country.
Sources at RTE conceded this weekend that there was some "legitimacy" to the government's complaint.
The sources said Liveline was a very important vehicle for people to give expression to their worries about particular issues but, because of this, it is not a naturally balanced programme.
There was a need, they said, to have informed or expert opinion as well.
"We would share the concerns about the impact Liveline had," one source said, but stressed it was "entirely legitimate" for the programme to allow people express its views on this subject.
The sources also pointed to the calming presence of the Financial Regulator on the RTE news on Thursday night. "By the end of the day, we had sufficiently reassured people [and provided the necessary balance]," one source said, adding: "We would be fully aware that broadcasting can have an impact that is unforeseen".
Lenihan yesterday told a press conference that it was "very important" that those who comment are "careful not to create a self-fulfilling prophecy".
There was also some suggestion that the government was unhappy with commentary on the crisis on Thursday night's news by George Lee, the highly-rated RTE economics editor.
But RTE sources said that Lee was "quite often at odds with the consensus", adding: "Our view is that George is his own man. He makes a very valuable contribution".