Monday 3 March 2008

I hate the term 'Nanny State'.....but

It's a knee jerk reactionary phrase to unpopular laws. Yes, we can be over regulated at times but such Orwellian terminology only serves to sensationalise situations in a bid to attract attention.

Yet as hypocritical as I'm going to sound, I'm quite surprised that more hasn't been made of Eamon Ryan's proposal to give more prime time viewing hours to public service announcements, which smacks of the government dictating to us what we should watch.

Mr Ryan insists that RTE must stop 'chasing ratings', claiming that 'RTE's key role is in the provision of high-quality content in innovative creative output.'

A key role it has served in recent times with output such as 'Celebrities Go Wild', 'Celebrity Jigs and Reels', the upcoming 'Celebrity Banisteoir' and the interminable 'You're A Star'.

The fear now is that there will be a split in how money is spent by the national broadcaster - advertising funds will go towards buying in imported television shows and sporting events, with license fees going toward the proposed 'public service content'.

Obviously RTE will have to increase the fees taken from advertisers to cover the dramas and sports coverage that they currently host on the station but the question is will advertisers bother stumping up that much more? Considering that Irish people can, and do watch many of the shows RTE boasts in its lineup on Satellite television (the big hitters such as Lost, Prison Break, Desperate Housewives and Scrubs are all on Sky One and E4) how much is the Irish market really worth? The crown jewel in RTE Sport's Autumn to Spring line up is the Champions League - available on ITV and Sky Sports.

The pressure is on RTE to compete with these channels, it is not the advertisers job. Should RTE lose these ratings earners an anemic line up will have advertisers in a position to pay less for air time - albeit for a schedule that will have less viewers. However many of these advertisers have air time on satellite television also; will they be concerned knowing that many Irish have a mini-dish?

This draconian attempt by Ryan to 'serve the people' is reminiscent of De Valera's fear of the influence of television on Irish culture. While Dev's fear of 'cultural colonialism' is all to apparent in modern Ireland, any attempt by the government to impose what it believes is important viewing on the public will be of little benefit and will ensure millions turn to Sky and NTL for what they really want to see.

1 comment:

OneForTheRoad said...

I wouldn't expect Eamon Ryan to deliver a letter, never mind policy change at RTE.