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RTÉ retains an Irishness we should be proud of

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Maybe I am a sucker for nostalgia, tradition and a sense of “old” Ireland, but I can’t help but feel resentment every time someone suggests an overhaul in our national broadcaster, the iconic RTE.

Figures of late have shown a dramatic decrease in audience numbers for RTE television and radio. These lead to the revamp questions being asked, but worse some people would argue for the redundant nature of RTE in this era.

Maybe I am not thinking in terms of economics, credibility, pie charts and boardrooms but something about the dismissing of our national radio and television channel makes me feel just a little bit sad.

In this day and age Sky and numerous other companies provide us with the satellite TV experience. I am the first to admit that I love my multi-channel choices. Early morning is not right without Channel Four’s The Gilmore Girls repeats, what is lunch without a bit of The Documentary Channel? And don’t mention Nickelodeon, there to feed some people’s Sponge Bob addiction, and all that is just while residing in college accommodation! However, I still find the simple pleasures of RTE to be needed, even if just break up some of our less than education viewing habits.

We all need to catch up the news at times, the bias in international media in the conglomerate age means that stations such as Fox, Sky or CNN are not always reliable, not to mention not always relevant to the area of “home news”.

Without RTE how would we get our fix of Brian Dobson telling us about yet another factory closure or even more important, that Westlife have finally split up! Leaving aside sarcasm I still hold to the core of the opinion, national news deserves air time and we deserve unbiased accounts of all current affairs, national or international.

Even though I note nostalgia as one of my reasons for continuing a love affair with RTE I make allowances that many my age would not see this as a good enough reason. However, the college student is not the only audience member and though figures show we are turning away there is still the older generation who should not go unrecognised.

Many older people like the idea of turning on the television or radio to see a familiar face or the customary voice. We grew up in the age of international channels and are accustomed to flicking through hundreds of stations but some people want the traditional, established form of media. If RTE is a public service then I do not think it right to deny it to this grouping.

The Late Late Show may be facing competition but that does not take away from the fact that is the longest running chat show in the world, Reeling in the Years was one of the biggest successes in RTE history and love it or loath it, Fair City is always going to attract an audience. These are just some of the programs that sit on the “pro” list in the national broadcaster debate, and do note this is before we mention Grey’s Anatomy, Neighbours, Home and Away and other shows imported from across the waters that command cult followings.

Viewing figures may wax and wane but RTE will always be needed. It may not have the X factor, in schedule or characteristic, but sometimes popularity contests don’t account for tradition and service.

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