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Monday 20 February 2017

RTE staff in plot to target 'The Late Late Toy Show' in protest

Published 27/11/2016 | 02:30

The Late Late Toy Show
The Late Late Toy Show

RTE's decision to suspend outsourcing young people's programming (YPP) until January came hours after a memo circulated to workers' representatives said a protest targeting The Late Late Toy Show was on the cards.

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Managers at the State broadcaster are currently in discussions with trade union officials as workers demand a reversal of the decision to halt children's programming.

Staff contracts have been extended to January 31 after management conceded a lack of consultation on the issue was in breach of guiding principles agreed with unions.

In a memo seen by the Sunday Independent, union members said a very strong response was required.

"It is envisaged that withdrawal from the requirements of these agreements and protests targeting The Late Late Toy Show will be on the cards if the decision to outsource YPP is not reversed," said the memo.

A large cohort met with union officials in Studio Four in Donnybrook, Dublin, on Friday. Siptu's campaigns and equality organiser Karan O'Loughlin criticised the timing of RTE's intention to cut children's services yesterday.

She said: "It is fair to say there was no specific threat made by either party but the Toy Show is a core part of what RTE does for children.

"I think there is an understanding on their side that the announcement to cease production of children's programming a week before a key plank of their children's programming does not sit well."

Union officials will meet RTE representatives tomorrow when the final touches will be put on the timeline of a consultation process, which is scheduled to end before January 31.

RTE's outsourcing announcement has been met with widespread criticism.

Frustration: TV character Bosco has criticised the RTE’s decision to outsource production of children’s programmes Picture: Steve Humphreys
Frustration: TV character Bosco has criticised the RTE’s decision to outsource production of children’s programmes Picture: Steve Humphreys

The Lambert family, who played a key role in the production of hit children's shows such as Wanderly Wagon and Bosco, said the move to independently sourced programmes would be detrimental to Irish culture.

Miriam and Paula Lambert both played the part of Bosco during their RTE careers.

"I think it is very sad now that we are losing that culture," Miriam said.

"Children are watching all of these American-produced shows, picking up an American accent and becoming very Americanised. It is sad that children are not getting our own wealth of storytelling."

Paula added that it is vital any new shows are sourced properly. She said: "The shows now will only be as good as the people who commission them, so it will be interesting to see who gets that job and (whether) is it someone who is passionate about children's programmes."

Bosco also weighed in on the dispute, criticising RTE's move away from the production of children's programming. "I think it is a really bad decision," Bosco said.

"They are not thinking about what children want - and they want to watch Irish television."

A spokeswoman for RTE said the station is still committed to delivering Irish content. "RTE is not reducing its commitment to young people's programmes," she said.

Sunday Independent

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