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Broadcaster defends coverage after it is urged to 'embrace' regional bases

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Mr O’Donovan called on the broadcaster to 'display a real commitment' to people living outside Dublin. Photo: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Mr O’Donovan called on the broadcaster to 'display a real commitment' to people living outside Dublin. Photo: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Mr O’Donovan called on the broadcaster to 'display a real commitment' to people living outside Dublin. Photo: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

A Government minister has accused RTÉ of being "Dublin-centric" and called on the broadcaster to provide more balanced regional coverage.

Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan said the national broadcaster should start airing "mainstream shows" from outside Dublin.

Writing in today's Irish Independent, Mr O'Donovan said: "RTÉ needs to realise a very centralised Dublin-centric approach cannot continue despite their outstanding financial difficulties."

RTÉ responded by saying it is committed to providing "comprehensive coverage and programming from all parts of Ireland".

Mr O'Donovan called on the broadcaster to "display a real commitment" to people living outside Dublin.

"Yes, just shy of two million people live in the Dublin, Meath, Wicklow and Kildare sprawl.

"But you know what else? Three million people live in the rest of the country."

Mr O'Donovan, who regularly criticises RTÉ, said the broadcaster should "embrace" their regional bases and "watch how they can support the central Dublin axis as opposed to a conflicting sides mentality".

"You will soon find, as many of your regional colleagues will testify, that the regions are more than willing to work and assist RTÉ in providing the best possible public service broadcasting going," he added.

Mr Donovan was also critical of RTÉ's decision to close its Limerick studio as part of a cost-cutting plan.

An RTÉ spokesman said it provides daily broadcasts from Cork on television and radio every day from Kerry, Limerick, Galway and Donegal.

The broadcaster also said its 'Ireland on Call' show on the pandemic and the recent documentary 'MayDay: 24 Hours in Ireland's Lockdown' both included coverage of the regions.

"This extensive commitment exists within the context of a major funding crisis for public media in Ireland, exacerbated by the national Covid-19 crisis, which is affecting all business and all areas of the economy, not least RTÉ," the spokesman said.

"RTÉ must balance its wide range of commitments with the ongoing and pressing need to reduce costs - nonetheless, giving voice to and providing coverage from all regions, including Dublin, remains a priority for RTÉ."

Mr O'Donovan previously suggested RTÉ should broadcast death notices during an interview on its cost-saving plans.

Irish Independent