Michael McDowell: Is it time for return of the Progressive Democrats?

Recent Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll shows FF and FG trailing far behind Sinn Féin

Could either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael survive in an election promising more of the same?

Could either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael survive in an election promising more of the same?

There is a very different tone to RTÉ’s advertising these days. Apart from exhortations to buy a TV licence “brought to you from the Government of Ireland”, there is a plethora of State or semi-State advertising covering a vast spectrum of campaigns – from “Your Mental Health” and sexual harrassment to winter windscreen-wiper maintenance, from farm safety to internet fraud and from domestic abuse prevention to warnings about unlicensed gas maintenance men and unregistered estate agents, and everywhere else in between.

The majority of advert breaks on RTÉ radio seem composed of this kind of State preaching or television licence commercials or advertisement of other radio programmes. Whether the national braodcaster goes with its begging bowl to State departments or agencies, or whether there is an unspoken political directive to State agencies and departments to use up unspent funds on advertising campaigns, or whether the private commercial sector has simply moved its advertising budgets elsewhere, the net result is that RTÉ has become heavily dependent on the State and on its licence fee to survive in admittedly difficult times.

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