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RTÉ will continue making children's TV programmes in 2017

However, it’s understood the programming will be minimal and there are no guarantees beyond this year.

Bosco will be happy with the news
Bosco will be happy with the news
Image: TheJournal.ie

RTÉ WILL CONTINUE to make some in-house children’s programming in 2017, TheJournal.ie has learned.

Back 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’ union and management.

The station has now temporarily rowed back on the move, saying it will continue to produce some children’s programming this year. TheJournal.ie understands it will be a minimal amount of programming.

A source with knowledge of the situation says the programming being made in-house is for RTÉ Jr, which is aimed at children under the age of seven. “There is nothing being made in-house for any other age group,” they said, adding that many people have lost their jobs.

In November, the broadcaster’s Trade Union Group (TUG) said the original move was announced “without any consultation with trade unions” and held talks with RTÉ in a bid to stop it.

Internal memo

In an internal memo sent to staff in the past 24 hours, and seen by TheJournal.ie, 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”, while the TUG noted “the severe financial constraints under which RTÉ is currently operating”.

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 TUG 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 YPP outreach, meaning the continued presence of YPP at offsite 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 YPP content across the various platforms” and keeping TV, radio, online and/or app presences for YPP brands.

The RTÉ and the TUG have agreed to meet quarterly “to review and monitor the ongoing operation of these arrangements”.

In a separate statement sent to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for RTÉ said: “RTÉ and the TUG are 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.

“RTÉ will continue to offer the RTÉ Jr service on television, radio, and online/mobile for under sevens, as well as TRTÉ, the block of programming on RTÉ2 for seven to 12 year olds. 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.”

Reaction

Bosco visited TheJournal.ie shortly after the decision was announced in November and was not impressed with RTÉ, saying:

I think it’s because [RTÉ] don’t care about children … because if they did care about children then they wouldn’t take away the programmes.

“It made me very sad because I didn’t want that to happen. I don’t think anybody wanted it to happen. Now they say that they’re going to get lots of other people to make the programmes and I’m sure they’re going to do a very good job, but it’s not going to be the same when there’s no RTÉ Jr … I think it means the end of children’s programmes properly.”

When asked if Bosco trusted the adults in RTÉ, the puppet said:

No, I don’t. I think I’d give them the sack. I think that they should ask everybody what they think because doesn’t everybody pay to have children’s television when they pay their TV licence.

Read: ‘Financial difficulties’ at RTÉ forced children’s television cutbacks – but Fair City is safe

Read:  Bosco: ‘I don’t trust the bosses in RTÉ and I’d give them the sack’

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Órla Ryan

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