RTÉ taking steps to improve diversity of TV contributors

Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 01:00

RTÉ IS working on “a number of projects” to get new faces on television and improve the diversity of on-air contributors, according to director of programmes Steve Carson.

Mr Carson was responding to criticism from an audience member at the UCC TV50 conference that RTÉ suffers from “male arrogance” and does not feature enough women in programmes.

Lucy Keaveney, an equality advocate, told Mr Carson that she switched off whenever she saw all-male panels on current affairs shows. “All the complaints I’ve made to RTÉ have made not one whit of difference,” she said.

“I agree with you that there are not enough women on air,” Mr Carson replied. “I don’t buy the argument that it’s hard to find women. Well, doing hard things is what we’re all paid for.”

Cork Independent editor Deirdre O’Shaughnessy also challenged conference speakers on a lack of young people on screen, outside of reality television shows. “There are very few occasions where people in their 20s are represented,” she said.

Mr Carson said production teams within RTÉ included people of all ages and that its redundancy programme meant that it was regrettably losing the experience of older staff. Older faces should not simply make way for younger ones, he argued.

“I don’t believe you can run a station like Logan’s Run,” he said, referring to the science-fiction film in which people are killed on their 30th birthday.

Earlier in the day, David McCullagh, political correspondent for RTÉ, doubted whether it was “practical” for younger people to embark on a career in journalism in light of the “vicious spiral” of cutbacks at media organisations.

“I certainly wouldn’t be encouraging people to get into journalism, and I’m sorry to say that, because it is a fantastic career.”