Dee Forbes, Director General of Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), the national public service broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland, has delivered a strong defence of public service broadcasting, in particular those broadcasters whose roles include safeguarding national tongues and identities.
Delivering a Keynote Speech at the Celtic Media Festival in Douglas, the Isle of Man, Forbes, who had a long career in multi-channel broadcasting with companies such as Discovery and Turner before being appointed Director General at RTÉ in 2106, described the broadcaster as “Ireland’s national public service media organisation”. “That meant something many, many years ago,” she declared. “It still means something and my mission is to make sure it still means something in ten years’ time and beyond,” she said, advising delegates that “our collective mission here is the same for each of our individual media”.
However, she warned that “in Ireland, public media is on the precipice. Funding is reduced and all media are having to take steps to raise funds, us included, to make investment in vital capital projects that allow us to create and distribute home-produced content to our audiences. We value what is at stake. Indigenous home-produced content and the various societies that rely on objective, impartial and creative content that tells us about us. It’s chilling to imagine who we could be as peoples and cultures without that.”
She said that RTÉ had made important decisions designed to safeguard the very future of public service media and opened a crucial new phase in the dialogue about why public media matters.
In March 2017, Forbes revealed that RTÉ had been operating with vastly-reduced commercial and licence fee income, now in the region of €330 million, compared to €440 million in 2008, and had been under-investing in the organisation for nearly a decade now, describing the situation as “unsustainable”.