Thursday 14 November 2019

'There’s an awful lot of anger' - RTÉ executives heckled at heated meeting after plans to cut 200 jobs revealed


RTE boss: Dee Forbes
RTE boss: Dee Forbes
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

MEMBERS of RTÉ’s Executive Board were heckled and jeered at a heated meeting with the company’s staff this morning.

Tensions were high at the ‘town hall’ meeting where staff gathered in a packed Studio 1 to hear proposals for the future of the company amid plans for 200 jobs cut and the closure of its Digital stations and the sale of the RTÉ Guide.

The entire meeting was also played around the Montrose campus on monitors to update staff who could not attend on all developments. RTÉ employs 1,800 people at present.

Staff accused management of letting them down and failing to adequately tackle the Government about the proposed licence fee increase.

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At one point, one staff member took to task members of the RTÉ Executive Board – including RTÉ DG Dee Forbes, Head of News Jon Williams and Director of Commercial Geraldine O’Leary.

They were criticised for their “lack of engagement with the Government to get things done.”

“There’s no point in your standing here and saying, ‘Oh well, we’ve talked to the Government. Actions speak louder than words,” the staff member said.

Dee Forbes at one point questioned why the media had “picked up on Lyric FM moving”, referred to its proposed move from its Limerick base to Dublin and Cork.

Dressed in black and clutching a bottle of water throughout the meeting, she told staff that they were “not giving up on Lyric.”

One member of the nine-strong RTE Executive defended the recent measures and said that “it was the job of 1,800 people to save RTÉ, not nine people.”

However, one staff member said that the current proposals for the move were “perplexing” and it also felt like a shake-down of Lyric FM staff members, given that less than a dozen people worked there.

The issue of the sale of the RTÉ Guide magazine was also addressed and support was expressed for staff members there.

“People in RTÉ are extremely frustrated at management,” one source told Independent.ie

“The mood in the room was very bad and there’s an awful lot of anger among those working there. They feel very let-down by senior figures in RTE as they feel they haven’t done enough to address all the problems that have been building up for years.

“Just cutting jobs is a simplistic move to the financial issues that exist and they don’t think they have lobbied the Government enough for financial support, either in forming the licence fee to a broadcast charge of increasing the fee.”

RTÉ’s Studio 1 was packed for this morning’s meeting and the car-park was overflowing with cars, with security staff patrolling the area to make sure people weren’t parking illegally.

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