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Pat's gone, so RTE should just play the ad and get on with it

After a brief skirmish last week, the Battle of the Radio Ads just got serious.

Because the minor kerfuffle that surrounded Cork 96FM's "Why play with the knob?" campaign, aimed at Neil Prendeville's rival show on Red FM, turned out to be nothing more than a warm-up for the main event – this week's spat between RTE Radio and Newstalk.

The national broadcaster has apparently refused to air an ad for Newstalk imploring its listeners to "Move the Dial" over to Pat Kenny's new station.

You would have thought that RTE would want all the advertising revenue it can get, but it has refused the ad, the excuse being that it breaks the codes and regulations, as the tagline involves a "call to action".


Management at RTE have, once again, done themselves no favours, as the claim is of course as ridiculous as it is a smokescreen.

Most advertising that RTE runs involves some call to action – if one supermarket chain is asking you to shop with it because it has lower prices, it is implicitly asking you not to shop in any of its rivals.

Moreover, RTE thinks nothing of mercilessly plugging its own shows, constantly running free promotions for its TV and radio shows when it doesn't have an advertisement to fill the space.

The problem with the Newstalk ad is, of course, that it's a big embarrassment to RTE.

It is reminding RTE viewers that Pat Kenny no longer works there, and is asking them to migrate to the rival channel that poached him.

And as RTE remains the most popular broadcaster in the country, and the place for businesses to reach the largest possible market, for it to refuse an ad such as this is a blatant abuse of its position.

Ultimately, however, there is an even more compelling reason for RTE to accept the ads.


This campaign first aired nine months ago, and the very fact that Newstalk wants to place them shows that Pat Kenny's show hasn't attracted the number of listeners hoped for.

Despite everyone by now knowing well that Pat is over on Newstalk, the vast majority of listeners prefer Sean O'Rourke on RTE.

RTE has won the battle. So why not take Newstalk's money with a smile and spend it on something that the Irish public wants to watch?