Just under a week after RTE’s veteran reporter, Tommie Gorman, told the viewing public that Ireland was doing so well compared to Britain because the English “lacked people of the stature of Tony Holohan and Paul Reid”, RTE is getting a treat from the Government. What a good boy:
GIVEN THE IMPORTANCE of public service broadcasting, Communications Minister Richard Bruton has said he does not intend to seek a moratorium on TV licence payments during the Covid-19 crisis.
Yesterday, the national broadcaster announced that it will be availing of the government’s wage subsidy scheme.
In a statement yesterday, the national broadcaster confirmed that like many national and local media outlets, it has been impacted by the public health emergency.
We can all agree, of course, on the importance of public service broadcasting. Which is why we should all be so sad that we get so little of it:
Watched Varadkar on #rtept. The leaders of other countries could only dream of interviews like that.
— Robert Burke (@robertburke84) April 21, 2020
In the space of a week, we’ve had RTE journalists telling the country that other countries don’t have experts as good as ours, and an interview with the Taoiseach that was so soft you could use it in a pinch if there was ever a run on toilet paper. And then, right on cue, we get the old “RTE is struggling for cash” sob story.
The thing about public service broadcasting, of course, is that lots of it happens entirely independently of RTE. Richard Chambers and Gavan Reilly have been doing a superb job in broadcast coverage for the opposition Virgin Media. Newstalk and Today FM, for all that one might not like the ownership, provide a news service that’s just as thorough. RTE’s justification for continued existence rests almost entirely on the occasional Prime Time investigation into Greyhounds, and really, given how quickly that was forgotten, what was the point of it anyway?
RTE, an almost entirely state-funded entity, is now applying for funds that were put in place to help struggling private sector companies. This is absurd, and you should consider the reasons why:
The point of the wage subsidy was to help private companies who, because of the lockdown, would lose business. Maybe their employees could not come to work? Well, that doesn’t apply to RTE.
Maybe their business was forced to close? Well, that doesn’t apply to RTE either.
Maybe there were restrictions on how they could trade? Well, guess what? That doesn’t apply to RTE, either.
Of all the companies in Ireland, RTE might be the only one that has been able to operate normally during the crisis. And of all the companies in Ireland, it’s also the only one that already receives a direct subsidy from the taxpayer in the form of a TV licence that funds one TV and radio provider alone.
RTE will argue that it’s advertising revenue is down. Well, so what? Lots of sectors are in a much worse position than RTE is, and they do not go to the front of the line for a bailout. In fact, there are many families in the country struggling economically, and they’re not getting a break from funding RTE.
The self-styled national broadcaster has a long record of paying exorbitant salaries, squatting on valuable land, and, above all, failing to do its job.
It does not deserve a red cent more of our money. But it will get as much as it wants, because politicians know that enough of you are willing to believe whatever Tommie Gorman says, however transparently nonsensical it is.