Sunday 17 December 2017

RTE sends 48 staff to England to cover Irish state visit

Brian Byrne

RTE sent 48 members of staff to England to cover the state visit of President Michael D. Higgins.

This included 30 core staff members to provide coverage across television, radio, online and mobile in both English and Irish for the duration of the visit.

A further 18 supplementary members of staff travelled or are due to travel at various periods of two days or less to provide additional programme coverage.

The national broadcaster made the clarification after Labour MEP Emer Costello claimed in a blog post it had sent 60 staff members, stating: “If RTE can afford to send 60 staff for State Visit, it should re-open London Office.” The post was later removed.

The politician was referring to RTE's decision to close its London offices in 2012 due to cost-saving measures.

RTE said the core team of staff members it send includes a technical team of 13 staff members including camera, sound and satellite truck unit operators, two presenters, two correspondents and five reporters.

An additional editorial team of five members of staff are working behind the scenes, while three more from Nuacht are providing Irish-language news programmes for RTE and TG4.

RTE One's coverage of the State Banquet on Tuesday night saw an average viewership of 480,000 with a peak 800,000 tuning it at some point during the live transmission.

Tomorrow night RTE will broadcast live coverage of the Ceiliúradh concert, an evening of music, spoken word and dance at the Royal Albert Hall in honour of the visit.

The line up of artists to perform include Imelda May, The Gloaming, Paul Brady, Lisa Hannigan, Glen Hansard, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, The West Ocean Quartet, Joseph O'Connor and Fiona Shaw.

RTE has previously received criticism for sending large numbers of staff to cover worldwide events.

In 2013 the Irish Independent revealed that the broadcaster spent €194,000 sending 22 journalists and producers to the Vatican to cover the resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of his successor Pope Francis.

RTÉ said it is combining resources with British broadcasters BBC, SKY and ITV to provide live pool coverage of the major events on the State Visit. It stated this live pool coverage is also available to other Irish broadcasters free of charge.

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