International TV Day: RTÉ Television
In fairness to RTÉ haven't lost many viewers, though they haven't really gained any either. All Irish channel are really just fight for the low 45% share of the audience that view Irish TV. 55% continue to seek alternative programming via British and International broadcasters. RTÉ One still relies heavily on older audiences and you would think that as younger audience move on demand service that the broadcaster would see a vast increase in the live TV viewing market, this has not happened. Over on 2, RTÉ are struggling with a huge reliance on Sport, 2016 proved this as RTÉ made the decision to dedicate 2 to the Euros and the Olympic Games, indeed RTÉ One saw a major increase in audience over the summer months due to its coverage of the GAA Championships. Fortunately for RTÉ2 sport continued into October allowing the channel to hold up its fragile audience.
RTÉ has said on several occasions that it has plans for Drama. This year RTÉ One broadcast just Irish dramas, the period drama Rebellion and the two co-produced BBC NI dramas The Fall and My Mother. The new Direct General, Deirdre Forbes, was reported to suggested to Minister Denis Naughten that RTE Drama could be increase should TG4 share of the licence fee be return to RTE. The problem with this argument is that RTE Drama has struggled since 2008 with no sign of return to its healthy output from 2000 to 2007. TG4 has only received a portion of the licence fee since 2011. In terms of TV drama RTÉ are still in the same place as they were a year ago. The sequel to Rebellion is due to air in 2017 with no other Drama announced. Instead RTÉ opted for continuous repeats of Reeling in the Years, Lifestyle programming and chat shows largely hosted by men, indeed RTÉ spent €4million more on imports than on Drama (including their soap Fair City).
In terms of Entertainment RTÉ is still relying heavily on Winning Streak with just one other weekend entertainment show, Ireland's Fittest Family. RTE will begin broadcasting Dancing with the Star in January but the weekend schedule seems as usual devoid of any smaller entertainment shows, that might help build an weekend family audience. It is also surprising that RTÉ have to call Strictly Come Dancing the international title rather then the better known British title in Ireland.
RTÉ2 remains RTÉ little sibling. Under funded and without any real direction. It continues with bad US soaps, while putting better US dramas on late night. It's 5:30 to 8pm programming continues with repeat soaps from RTÉ One, repeats of The Simpsons, repeats of Friends and repeats of The Big Bang Theory. Let me just repeat that repeats take up most of RTÉ2's evening schedule. It is devoid of any news or current affairs aimed at is supposed core youth audience. Wonderful. Bright. Energetic.
If we are heading toward a strong take up of On Demand RTÉ TV output outside of sport is lacking variety on TV, which trickles down to the RTÉ player.
And what about the other RTÉ channels. Well RTÉ recently provided the department a report into their new services, RTÉ One +1, RTÉ News Now, RTÉ2 HD (as if it was a new service) and RTÉjr. The report was a year late. It was a self justification for RTÉ One +1 not moving towards RTÉ Plus, RTÉ News Now's inability to have a schedule and RTÉ's the move towards HD for both One and 2. The ministers responded by posted (with the eircode) to Moya Doherty, stating that the channels would see no change.
In June the minister granted a new channel to RTÉ, Oireactas TV on Saorview. It will be controlled by RTÉ providing more licence fee money to other broadcasters, indeed the reports to the minister all stated it was a tiny amount of money required. You'd wonder why the Minister would need to be told by advisers and consultants what a tiny amount of money is. It took just 18 months to come to such a small decision for such a tiny sum of money. Oireactas will continue to control their TV service on other platforms.