RTÉ WILL CONTINUE to make children’s programmes after previously saying it would axe in-house production of the shows.
In November, the state broadcaster was heavily criticised after it said it would no longer produce any programming for young people citing a “challenging financial environment”.
RTÉ instead planned to commission all of its content geared towards young people from the independent sector.
However, it is now understood that the required savings have been found following negotiations between the workers’ unions and management.
The station has temporarily rowed back on the move, saying it will continue to produce children’s programming this year.
The broadcaster’s trade union group, which represents workers from several different bodies, said the original move was announced “without any consultation with trade unions” and it had been lobbying to stop the plan.
In an internal memo sent to staff in the past 24 hours, RTÉ acknowledged “the work of the Young People’s Programme (YPP) department over the years and the specific skill set required in the creation of content for YPP”.
It continues: “For its part, RTÉ confirms its commitment in 2017 to the internal production and creation of content for young people as outlined in a 2017 YPP agreement.
“The parties jointly acknowledge that the required savings have been identified and achieved as part of this negotiation.”
It notes that a number of concerns were raised during negotiation on the issue, stating:
“RTÉ and (unions) have agreed a plan for 2017 and have identified existing resources which will be used to maintain internally produced YPP content, within current budgets, while delivering the required savings for the organisation.”
The memo adds that RTÉ has confirmed its commitment to youth programming outreach, meaning it would have a continued presence at events such as the National Ploughing Championships and Bloom.
The station has also committed to “a high-profile promotion campaign aimed at parents to direct them to youth content across the various platforms” and keeping TV, radio, online and app presences for youth brands.
The RTÉ and unions have agreed to meet quarterly “to review and monitor the ongoing operation of these arrangements”.
In a separate statement, a spokesperson for RTÉ said the broadcaster and unions were “committed to working together to ensure that younger audiences continue to be served, while maintaining the necessary savings that had previously been identified given RTÉ’s ongoing funding concerns”.
“Details of in-house production are still being worked on and the trade union group and RTÉ have committed to quarterly reviews of the agreement,” it said.
RTÉ recently revealed it was selling off part of its valuable Donnybrook base to help turn around its financial fortunes. The tranche of land is expected to fetch more than €50 million.
The broadcaster recorded a deficit of €2.8 million in 2015, the last full year for which figures are available, despite a small increase in revenue. It relies on the TV licence fees for more than half its income, with the remainder coming from commercial sources.
Written by Órla Ryan and posted on TheJournal.ie. Additional reporting Peter Bodkin.