Friday 19 January 2018

RTÉ's funding model is out of date and unfair to competitors

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny
Eamon Delaney

Eamon Delaney

A possible Fianna Fáil coalition with Sinn Féin, or with Fine Gael; Enda Kenny saying he won't go for more than another term; Renua setting out its stall on various policies. It's been a busy month for politics, and a busy summer indeed. But you wouldn't know it from our national broadcaster, RTÉ, which is on its customary seasonal shut down.

'The Week in Politics', 'Late Debate' and other current affairs shows - all are off-air, as if the world had stopped moving. Even the flagship 'Prime Time' programme is tied up at port, with its capable crew grounded.

Clearly, the RTÉ establishment believes that the real world resumes later in the year, which is why it was busy launching its autumn schedule this week. It's interesting fare, but nothing to shout about. A 1916 TV drama was well flagged, as was the replacement of Ray D'Arcy for Brendan O'Connor in the Saturday night chat show slot, a risky move, indeed: D'Arcy's return to RTÉ radio has been underwhelming and his venture into TV could be even more so. Otherwise, it's slim pickings, and probably the best RTÉ could do on a shrunken budget. But, once again, viewers will been wondering why exactly they have to pay a special licence fee for the channel.

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