NUJ seeks talks on nuacht service and new station


THE National Union of Journalists is seeking urgent talks with RTE and Teilifis na Gaeilge about the future "role and relationship" of RTE's nuacht service to the new station. The union also wants, to open talks on a collective agreement on pay and conditions for the service.

The move follows a statement issued in error by the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht which welcomed plans to decentralise" the nuacht to TnaG's headquarters in Connemara. The Department later retracted the statement and apologised, while RTE said it was a misunderstanding.

At an NUJ meeting on Monday, nuacht journalists expressed "dismay" over the incident. A statement issued after the meeting said the positions adopted by the RTE Authority and the Minister had shocked them. "They seemed to indicate an appalling lack of communication and an absolute disregard for the professional standing of each and every journalist in the nuacht service, most of whom have many years' experience in television radio new the statement said.

"Subsequent clarifications have done little to allay the fears of nuacht journalists. They do, however, welcome the inception of Teilifis na Gaeilge and look forward to co operating with the new service in the provision of a comprehensive news service in Irish."

Meanwhile, the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Mr Higgins, has suggested the issue falls within the general context of decentralisation at RTE. In an interview in Irish in The Irish Times this week, Mr Higgins pointed to plans to decentralise Network 2 to Cork, and referred to earlier fears that TnaG's news would be broadcast from Donnybrook. "It seems, in the near future, the opposite will happen.....

Decentralisation is what will happen instead of centralised power," he said.

Mr Higgins also said that TnaG would be free to make its own programmes, although its primary role is that of a publisher/broadcaster. Responsibility for "spare" airtime for the new station would rest with Comhairle Theilifis na Gaeilge pending legislation, the Minister added.