What Are RTÉ Doing With RTÉjr and Co?

In late 2016 RTÉ announced its decision to, as they put it, outsource children's programming. This caused some uproar about what appeared to be the dropping of Children's programming. It was strange to see that RTÉ use the word outsource, in TV terms it would usually be put down as commissioning. With the uproar in the media about outsourcing RTÉ slightly back tracked on some of their plans and they were clear to say that they were not cutting funding for Children's Programming. According to their 2015 Annual Report just under 10 million was spent on Children's programming, the 2016 annual report had yet to be produced, in mid-2017 it showed that RTE had cut funding for children's programming by 25%.

In many ways the uproar caused in the media was large from journalist who really hadn't taken time to look at the cuts already implemented at RTÉ's Young People's Department. Two Tube their daily teen segment had been dropped in May 2016.

Many of those same journalists had fond memories of RTÉ's young people programming. From Bosco to The Den, The Morbegs to The Beat Box, From Pajo's Junkbox to Top Thirty Hits and so on. They are part of the 30 to 45 year old age group and largely the lived through the golden age of cheap cheerful Young People Programming produced by RTÉ. I would be surprised if those who grew up with TV in the 1960s, 1970s and from 2004 to now have or will have the same recollections on Irish Children's TV programming.

RTÉ have always underfunded Children's TV. The Den for example was produced by RTÉ's presentation department, moving to their Young People's department in the late 1990s.

So what did The Den-Generation miss out on asking?

Firstly they took RTÉ at its word. It would not cut funding to their YPP department. No one in the media asked how much did RTÉ spend on YPP in 2016. They looked back on 2015, which showed that RTÉ spent just under 10 million on children's programming.

At the time readers, viewers and listeners would be hard pressed to imagine that RTÉ had cut their funding for Children's programming by 25%, in 2016 they spent just 7.1million for Irish children's programming, or just 2% of RTÉ total budget that year. So at the time of announcement of the closure of in-house YPP productions RTÉ looked like it was going to spend 10million in 2017.

Few failed to notice what RTÉ's plan was for 2017. RTÉ had stated that it would not start commissioning its programming for YPP until mid-2017. In effect immediately replacing new programming for repeats until at least the end of 2017 and early 2018.

Moving to full independent productions for home produced programming is not a bad thing, RTÉ are required to provide money to the independent sector. In 2016 RTÉ spent €40.3 million on Independent Productions or 2% above their requirement. If we assume that 50% of all YPP funding is given to independent producers you could rightly assume that RTÉ will increase its funding for Independent Productions by at least 3.5million.

Cynically you'd be right to guess that 3.5million of funding will be re-directed to RTÉ's children's programming or YPP. In effect reducing funding for all other independent productions by 3.5million.

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