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RTÉjr Has Big Secret .... Shhhh don't tell anyone!

RTÉ, the BAI and DCENR have refused to give details of proposed changes to RTÉ schedules that never took place. These proposed changes took place (sorry did not take place) in 2013 when RTÉ requested that it move all RTÉjr programming from RTÉ2. In an FoI all three organisations took the decision to refuse the freedom of information request on a lapsed project where no ministerial decision was ever taken, no public consultation was provided and where the project was ultimately scrapped by RTÉ. At the time reports in the media had suggested that the former Minister of Communications would not allow the move under the Broadcasting Act 2009 and on 3 separate occasions over the course of a year Pat Rabbitte stated that he would make a decision on this change of schedule "soon". Pat Rabbitte order the BAI to work on a Strategic Impact Assessment which cost the regulator €30,000 according to documents seen by CCÉ. Ultimately Pat Rabbitte was dropped from his portfolio amid claims of ageism, and replaced by Alex White (56). Alex White announced in the Dail, when asked about the move, that RTÉ had withdrawn their application and that they would propose a new schedule by the end of 2015.

You'd have to question why such a small move has been kept a secret from the licence fee payer. Indeed the first request that RTÉ made to the department for the provision of new services and changes to the schedule were shown to the audience as part of the decision make process.

Under the terms of the Broadcasting Act 2009 the Minister may consult with the public. Former Green Minister Eamon Ryan took the decision to consult with the public and based on those consultations and the BAI's SAI former Fianna Fail Minister Pat Carey made a decision, but did not go as far as the RTÉ proposal had wanted. He prevented advertising on RTÉ News Now and RTÉ's proposal for a 3rd TV channel instead opting for RTÉ ONE +1.

On the other hand former Labour party leader and Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte refused to put the new proposal to the public, though he did consult with TG4 and TV3, competitors of RTÉ, yet under the Freedom of Information Act RTÉ, the BAI and DCENR stated that they would not release the proposal to the public due to the commercial information contained in the proposal.

Clearly Ministers have their hands tied when a proposal about a non-commercial public service such as RTÉjr cannot be put to the people in an open and transparent way.

Meanwhile, RTÉ did not provide DCENR with a report into new services provided by RTÉ on Saorview, as requested under the original decision by Pat Carey.