24 November 2016

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys has called on the Minister for Communications to explain to the House why RTÉ has taken the decision to outsource its programmes for young people.

Senator Humphreys, who raised the issue in the Seanad today, also described the move by the public broadcaster to switch coverage of the Oireachtas from RTÉ One Television to a digital-only service as “an utterly unacceptable development” .

Senator Humphreys said:

“At a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications last Tuesday evening the RTÉ Director-General Dee Forbes indicated that Oireachtas Report may be move to a digital-only service.

“The RTÉ DG decline to discuss the matter in detail and said RTÉ would engage further in private with the Oireachtas.

“It also emerged at the meeting that RTÉ has been lobbying some Oireachtas members about this move.

“I find this softening-up exercise offensive. RTÉ needs to come back into the Oireachtas to have a proper discussion with TDs and Senators.

“The Oireachtas Report may not get huge audiences but RTÉ receives €180m a year in license fee money to provide coverage of politics and of the arts. If the station doesn’t want to provide this crucial democratic coverage then the argument for its entitlement to license fee income is fundamentally diminished.

“The revelation about Oireachtas Report comes a day after RTÉ confirmed a significant change in how its plans to provide children’s programming.

“The fact that there was an oblique reference to the Oireachtas Report changes and none to children’s programming at the Communications Committee on Tueday is disrespectable to the Committee and its members.

“Senator Humphreys confirmed that he is today writing to the Chairperson of the Joint Committee – Deputy Hildagarde Naughten – requesting that the RTÉ Chairperson and the RTE DG attend a special meeting next week to discuss these important matters.”


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