Wednesday 21 March 2018

Broadcaster forced to back down on the outsourcing of children's TV... for now

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Sean O'Grady

RTÉ has been forced to back down on its outsourcing plan for young people's programming to facilitate talks.

Earlier this week some 15 contractors were told they would be finished by the end of the year, and RTÉ staff working in the section would be redeployed elsewhere.

But last night management announced they had entered into a consultation process with the RTÉ Trade Union Group (TUG). Management accepted there was a breach of the 'Guiding Principles Agreement' which commits to prior consultation on significant issues.

This move means that the contracts of 15 contractors have been extended until January 31.

However, Adrian Lynch, channel controller of RTÉ One and RTÉ Two, added that management at the national broadcaster would have to make "extremely unpalatable" decisions in the months ahead due to Brexit.

"We're in an acute financial situation we can't afford everything we need to do and we need to make decisions," he said.

"By law, we have to spend €40m (in the independent sector) and that was behind this very difficult decision."

Mr Lynch insisted 'Fair City' would not be outsourced following speculation the soap was set to follow children's programming.

Earlier, Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh had spoken out of her disappointment.

Ní Chofaigh, who is a staff member at Montrose, said that while some sectors of Ireland may have come out of the recession, television was still struggling to stay above water.

Ní Chofaigh got her start on young people's programming, hosting 'Echo Island' alongside comedian Dara Ó Briain and Derek Mooney.

"It's very disappointing... It's worrying. That's the business, nothing is full time. Talk about recovery? There's no recovery in television. Television is changing and we have to change with it," she said.

Even Dustin The Turkey stuck his beak into the matter, claiming anyone in RTÉ with any talent left the station a long time ago.

"The problem is anyone who is good in RTÉ leaves and then they're left with all the dead wood. What they have to do is bring back the experts," he said.

"People who've worked for them.

"We never looked at ourselves as kids' TV, we looked at ourselves as family TV, everyone would get a kick out of it. Don't patronise kids."

RTÉ released a statement confirming it had begun talks with union TUG.

"RTÉ and TUG met today to discuss RTÉ's decision to transfer of all young people's programming to the independent sector. RTÉ accepted that there has been a breach of the 'Guiding Principles Agreement' which commit to prior consultation on significant issues.

"It has been agreed that union and management will enter into comprehensive discussions on this matter in line with our agreements."

Irish Independent

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