This cannot be a hollowing out of RTÉ

14 November 2023

Labour media, arts and workers’ right spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock has urged Government intervention to prevent the hollowing out of RTÉ.

Senator Sherlock said:

“What has been published today should send alarm bells ringing in Government Buildings. Is this Government about to stand over the utter hollowing out of RTÉ?

“The cuts announced are chilling. What we need to understand now is how RTÉ will be able to continue with its mandate to provide public service broadcasting on a shoestring.

“The harsh reality is what’s been announced today is taking place against a backdrop of an acute funding crisis that threatens the very existence of public service media in Ireland, as acknowledged by the Director General today.

“Yet, there’s more questions than answers now in regards to the strategy management appears to be taking. It is staff of RTÉ, workers like producers, reporters, camera people, who are the linchpin of the organisation. Reducing RTÉ’s workforce by one fifth is going to pose extraordinary operational challenges for the broadcaster.

“A pay cap for top earners has rightly been announced, but where was this before now? RTÉ has been in an existential crisis in terms of funding for some time now.

“There are serious question marks over how RTÉ will operate into the future if it culls one fifth of the organisation. We note the ongoing commitment to RTÉ sport, the commitment to increase original Irish drama, and to expand the number of hours of Irish programmes, so it’s not clear just how a smaller budget for the broadcaster will be allocated.

“RTÉ plays a great role in supporting the independent sector in Ireland, however this proposal goes much further than supporting. RTÉ are planning to outsource to the independent sector, which should not be the case.

“There’s an enormous lack of clarity on the future of RTÉ. TV licence payers have a right to know how the national broadcaster will be funded, what will be prioritised and how it plans to save itself from extinction.

“Government cannot be a passive by-stander. Labour has called for an urgent debate on the future funding of RTÉ this week. This is a crucial moment in RTÉ’s history.”

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