RTÉ in the spotlight

Who is in charge?

Sir, – Am I alone in feeling more and more uncomfortable about the almost lascivious concentration of both political and journalistic circles on the current failings of the national broadcaster?

It smacks more and more like kicking a person when they’re down.

Admittedly, as a former RTÉ broadcaster, I’m somewhat prejudiced. However, I’m still very proud to be associated with one of Europe’s finest broadcasting entities. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Can we assume that the Government, with support from all Opposition parties, will immediately introduce legislation prohibiting confidentiality clauses in any contract where a cent of public money is directly or indirectly involved? – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.

Sir, – You report on the turf war between two Oireachtas committees as they compete to grill more witnesses from RTÉ (News, February 22nd). Notwithstanding some good questions, we have also seen considerable inefficiency within these committees as individual members compete for the best soundbites at the expense of a more strategic and coordinated approach to questions.

Might our politicians now transfer the enthusiasm they have shown for probing RTÉ to other public services? RTÉ is important but other public services (and the poor quality or complete absence thereof) have infinitely more impact on our daily lives, indeed the state of public healthcare can be a life or death matter.

Ideally, public services would work effectively and efficiently. When they don’t, we need effective public accountability. I would prefer to see politicians prioritise their attention according to the impact that individual public services have on our lives rather than the apparent current focus on those services that make the best news headlines. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare.

Sir, – Much time is being taken up in considering the future funding of RTÉ's activities. The argument based on the need to support public service broadcasting seems to lack a definition of the term itself.

Does it really require the funding of three television stations and several radio stations? Does the definition embrace many hours of imported programming, including children’s programmes, drama, reality shows and, for example, 1950s American western movies on TG4?

In an environment where terrestrial television is experiencing an existential threat from online and subscription services, it is ludicrous for RTÉ to continue in the same old way. With RTÉ, the starting point in the conversation should not be where the broadcaster is now but what it might look like if it were now to be designed from scratch, with a proper definition of public service broadcasting.

Allocating State funding in lieu of the licence fee, together with advertising revenue, without undertaking a fundamental review of RTÉ's operations and economic model, is reckless.

The question should not be “How much?” but “Why?” – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.