Rescuing RTE…

Posted: May 10, 2012 in Arts Politics, Development, TV, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

My love for RTE is difficult to explain. To me, it’s like a child dressing up in mum’s lipstick and heals, trying to be a grown-up organisation. Inevitably, the lipstick ends up all over its face, the heals snap and the child tumbles; it may seem sweet, but it has a lot of growing up to do.

RTE, or to use its full name Raidió Teilifís Éireann (the Irish equivalent of the BBC, for those who are none the wiser), is currently at the lowest point in its fifty-two year history. With staff morale equally low, senior management are attempting a very irrational rationalisation– you know the type– where they change all the things that don’t need changing, while plastering over some suspicious cracks.  RTE is not only suffering from a lack of vision and money, but a serious lack of functional infrastructure. A plan to  completely rebuild the Montrose HQ in Dublin appears to have been shelved ‘in light of the current economic downturn’– and this isn’t the only important plan to have been shelved. RTE also put to bed a subscription channel dubbed ‘RTE International’, that would serve the vast Irish community in Britain, and others around the world. Brand awareness obviously isn’t a priority at RTE.

So how can we help this cranky toddler?  Essentially, we need to encourage it to grow– up and out:

GENERATE & SAVE INCOME:

– Sell international broadcasting rights for programmes such as Fair City.

– Integrate the production arm (vision, post production etc.) and offer a full production service. Target international production companies, market the service alongside the attractive lower corporate tax rate in Ireland.

– Bring more services in house. Create ‘Picture Grading’ and ‘Outside Broadcasting (OB)’ sections.

BROADCASTING QUALITY:

– Remove mid-programme commercial breaks to boost audience retention and thereby sell end-of-programme advertising at higher costs.

RTE is by no means a rich organisation: expansion has been slow and without any real planning and it desperately needs a Director General who will shake the company up, find a real solution to problems rather than merely cutting the payroll. Unlike theatre, music, and film, TV seems incapable of meeting the threats of the digital age. Rather than embrace technology and shake up programming and the commissioning process, broadcasters (RTE in particular) are running the same tired programmes.

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