Friday, April 26, 2013

Should RTE be privatized ?

RTE, or Raidió Teilifís Éireann, is a public service broadcaster owned by the Irish state on behalf of the Irish people. RTE operates two television channels, four primary national radio stations and seven digital stations.

In Ireland we have a bad habit of copying from the UK and slapping on an Irish sounding name tag. In this case, RTE was copied straight from the BBC with it's goal of Reithianism: quality programming free from the lowest common denominator policies of standard free market television channels.

Now I'm no fan of commercial channels showing endless reality TV, celebrity gossip, sport and  American sit-coms. Nor am I fan of privatisation in general. But surely RTE has failed and should be reduced in size, if not sold?

Consider :-

1) The current TV license fee may well be scraped in favour of a new household charge because 'young people watch television on their computers'. I already pay for internet service provider fees. Now I must pay an additional tax to pay for poor quality RTE programming that I have no intention of watching ?

2) RTE is supposedly a non-profit company. Yet it pays obscene and frankly offensive wages to the mediocre hacks. Gerry Ryan fuelled his cocaine habit with a 600,000 eur yearly wage. Pat Kenny, who is wisely retiring soon, once earned over 1 million a year, Mary I'm-Worth-it Finucane command fees around 439,265 eur.

3) Ireland also has a state funded channel called TG4 which caters for Irish language speakers and produces programming aimed at a local and national audience. Therefore Ireland already has a state channel with Reithianion aims; a channel that can produce documentaries on a budget less than Pat Kenny’s yearly salary. The state should salvage the few shows of worth from RTE/RTE2 and run them on TG4 with Irish subtitles.

4) RTE has long been accused of political bias with many of it's top stars having long associations with Fianna Fail.

5) The actual content of RTE is very poor. A small country like Ireland simply cannot compete with the large networks of America or the BBC.

6) RTE receives revenue from both advertisements and from the Irish taxpayer.

Sell it, close it down, just make it go away. Otherwise make it better and cheaper.

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