RTÉ must consider all options, not just Limerick – O’Donovan

-   Patrick ODonovan TD

RTÉ must consider all options, not just Limerick, as the State broadcaster looks to make changes, a Fine Gael Minister has said.

Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, said, “RTÉ must consider all of its options for cost reductions and not just look at its operations in Limerick.

“It has emerged that RTÉ plan to close the existing studio in Cornmarket Square in Limerick city, focusing on news only, and plan to move the production of Lyric FM to Cork and Dublin.

“Nobody is under the illusion that the situation at RTÉ can continue as is, but the State broadcaster has a responsibility to show that they have a commitment to all of the regions.

“All avenues to achieving cost reductions must be exhausted before any studios are closed, particularly outside of Dublin.

“RTÉ is an important employer in Limerick, as well as adding to its cultural life with Lyric FM produced here. The location of Lyric here was a huge boost for Limerick and it is vital that we do all we can to protect its place here.

“RTÉ must outline its rationale for how it decided that Limerick was a location where services could be downgraded, with other locations apparently retaining their existing services.

“Have all options been explored including the possibility of relocating the main campus away from Donnybrook? What changes are being made to maximise the broadcaster’s income streams through advertising?

“What will be put in place to ensure that RTÉ’s response to change will be more agile, responding to challenges at a faster pace?

“Undoubtedly there are difficult decisions being made in RTÉ and our concern is with those concerned about their jobs this morning. Every support must be made available to those employees at every step along the way now.

“Public service broadcasting is more important now than ever, from independent, objective reporting to cultural and Irish language programming, the services provided by RTÉ are crucial.

“The Government have accepted the recommendations of the Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting in relation to the licence fee and the system of collection will be revamped while a new device independent charge is designed, which will come into effect in the coming years,” he concluded.

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