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TG4 And RnaG – Time For A Single Irish Public Broadcasting Service

RTÉ vs. TG4

The Oirish Independent newspaper carries a report announcing “major reforms at RTÉ”, especially in relation to its, er, Irish language output (no sniggering!):

“A consolidation of the Irish language assets of RTE, with an amalgamation of Radio na Gaeltachta, TG4 and the Nuacht news service, is planned as part of the national broadcaster’s cost-cutting drive.

There is also the anomaly of the senior editors and producers in Radio na Gaeltachta and TG4 being paid at the same levels as their much busier counterparts in RTE TV in Dublin, an equality explained by the public-sector origins of RTE, which meant treating all its subsidiary sections or departments in the same way, and with the same pay levels.

But the feeling now is that this outdated structuring must be changed.”

TG4 originally began life as part of the RTÉ corporation (back when the Irish-language station was called TnaG) but it was made a separate public service broadcaster quite some time ago. However RTÉ stills provide a percentage of its programming, including its news service, an anomaly that should have been ended when the television station became statutorily independent. While it may seem sensible in the short term that the disparate news and current affairs teams for TG4, Raidió na Gaeltachta (RnaG) and RTÉ’s own Nuacht service are rolled into one there is a far more ambitious plan that should be implemented.

Several months ago I suggested that Irish language broadcasting in Ireland would be far better served if RnaG was split off from RTÉ and placed under the control of TG4, as its radio arm. As I said then:

“In the area of public service radio broadcasting in Irish TG4 is surely the logical organisation to turn to. Raidió na Gaeltachta (RnaG), for reasons which mystify most people, remains under the control of RTÉ. As an Irish language radio station its treatment in the RTÉ structure is simply abysmal. Underfunded, under-resourced, poorly ran and structured, it is the (deliberately) forgotten arm of the network.

RnaG must be liberated from the dead hand of Montrose and this can only come through an amalgamation with TG4. A single Irish language television and radio network, with a unified corporate structure and image, would provide the greatest value for money and service to viewers and listeners. What we have now is a mess, a national broadcaster that broadcasts almost exclusively in English controlling an Irish speaking radio station, when an Irish speaking TV station could do the job, and probably double the return in terms of investment and resources. The uniting of TG4 with RnaG would create a mutually supportive, symbiotic organisation with a cross-fertilization of audiences and programming.

It is time we faced up to the facts of where we really are in terms of Ireland’s media organisations. RTÉ is Ireland’s national English language public service broadcaster on television and radio. TG4, with RnaG, must become Ireland’s national Irish language public service broadcaster on television and radio. This is the only way forward that makes sound financial, organisational and broadcasting sense.”

I would also argue, in the interests of media plurality if nothing else, that a separate TG4-RnaG should have its own news and current affairs department, quiet separate from RTÉ’s, with a strong presence in the capital.

As for the rest of the newspaper report, the idea that TG4 or RnaG staff are on the same wages (and benefits) as the English broadcasters and staff in anglophone RTÉ is beyond risible.

1 comment on “TG4 And RnaG – Time For A Single Irish Public Broadcasting Service

  1. Suspect that certain similar Anglophone. Scotophobe elements at BBC Scotland would love to emulate their Irish peers vis a vis Scottish Gaelic broadcasting as this would, certainly, be in step with their pro-British state/anti-aboriginal practices elsewhere in their activities, eg, the suspension of public comments in the”Blether with Brian” political blog with its pro-Brit partiality: A shower of Anglocentric, comprador enforcers of British lebensraum polity in the – still – Celtic bantustan of Scotland in tandem with their irredentist “fellow travellers” and heirs to Conor Cruise O’Brien in Ireland.

    I trust Scottish independence and the subsequent establishment of a republic (despite the current ascendancy of the cuddly British-monarchist wing in the SNP) will give certain elements in Ireland pause.

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