RTE Weather Forecasts
Sir, - As a Dubliner who has been involved with Meteo-France for many years, I should like to endorse the views expressed by Alf Rhatigan and Con O'Rourke (October 7th) concerning the replacement of professional meteorologists on RTE by "entertainers".
Every spring, at Issy les Moulineaux near Paris, there is an international weather forecasters' festival attended by people such as Evelyn Cusack and Gerald Fleming from Met Eireann and Bill Giles from the BBC. However, in spite of its location, weather presenters from French television are nowhere to be seen, for the simple reason that, as non-professionals, they would be out of their depth. Due to the increasing demand for weather information here, forecasts can generate quite a lot of advertising revenue, and being a weather presenter can be a stepping-stone to a show-business career.
Because of the antics of some well-known presenters, meteorology is not taken seriously by a lot of French people, with the result that Meteo France scientists are continually having to explain that television forecasts are presented by amateurs who are simply briefed by professionals.
As Con O'Rourke pointed out, weather forecasts on television are pitched at Junior Cert geography level, forecasts presented by professionals to their peers being far too technical for the general public. However, although Evelyn Cusack, M.Sc. and her colleagues present information that can be understood by everyone, they do so with an authority that their French television counterparts lack. Since even Sky News employs meteorologists, Irish viewers have not yet been able to compare both systems, but I hope they will be intelligent enough to reject the new look. Whatever is behind this plan to oust Met Eireann staff from Donnybrook, it does no credit to those in control of RTE. Do they hope to boost ratings by imitating commercial channels in Sweden, where the curves that draw the most attention are not on the isobar charts? - Yours, etc., Michael Martin,