RTÉ television chief blames lack of drama on ‘paucity of funding’

Glen Killane tells Cork Film Festival producing drama is ‘still bloody expensive’

Managing director of RTÉ Television Glen Killane:  He was responding to criticism from ‘Irish Times’ television reviewer Bernice Harrison about the lack of any returning drama series on RTÉ. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Managing director of RTÉ Television Glen Killane: He was responding to criticism from ‘Irish Times’ television reviewer Bernice Harrison about the lack of any returning drama series on RTÉ. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

“Paucity of funding” is to blame for a lack of Irish drama on RTÉ Television, its managing director, Glen Killane, told the Cork Film Festival.

“I’m not happy with the level of drama on RTÉ,” he said at an event in the River Lee Hotel on the future of Irish broadcasting content.

Mr Killane was responding to criticism from Irish Times television reviewer Bernice Harrison about the lack of any returning drama series on RTÉ. The RTÉ television boss said this was “more by accident than design”, and said that while typical Irish drama costs of €700,000 an hour were a fraction of UK and US costs, producing drama was “still bloody expensive”.

Mr Killane was speaking in a week in which RTÉ lost its grip on the Six Nations with TV3 outbidding the station on the rights to coverage from 2018. It is understood RTÉ would have been forced to cut a service or significant swathes of content to win the rights to the tournament, traditionally a big driver of ratings in the spring. TV3 was recently acquired by cable and broadband operator Virgin Media, which is in turn owned by Liberty Global, a media giant controlled by Irish-American billionaire John Malone.

 

Product placement

Addressing the question of whether product placement “short-changed” the viewer, Mr Killane said he believed both RTÉ and TV3 had got the execution of these deals wrong in the past.

TV3 director of content Lynda McQuaid, who produced the Irish version of The Apprentice – the first major example of product placement on Irish television – said the idea was to give exposure to paying brands without turning the programme into a “gaudy Christmas tree”.