Monday, March 11, 2013

RTE Hypocrisy. Again.

The blood boils when it comes to RTE and its hypocrisy.  Claiming its place as a public service broadcaster, it distorts the private media and advertising markets, monsters the business, and - when attacked - claims public interest, like some Grand Poobah on a big solid gold throne.  This week, it's alcohol advertising.

Following a public health report which recommended banning advertising before 9 o'clock, RTE have stormed to the head of the opprobrium queue, claiming it simply couldn't work.  According to the report in the Irish Times, such a regulation would not work because it would only apply to Irish media; and because it would replace the old guidelines which require a 75% over-18 audience threshold before permitting alcohol advertising.  John Mulligan head of operations at RTE television, claimed that the new proposed rules would mean they could, in theory, place alcohol ads into the Toy Show.

I don't know where to begin.  Let's see.  First, the new rules would not overrule the current rules, which are voluntary, unless RTE decided to withdraw its voluntary support.  Second, the Toy Show argument is pure daft - would RTE ever actually do that?  With or without guidelines?  Third, the whole thing is bogus anyway because of the Premiership, Champions League, GAA and Rugby coverage which is massively sponsored by alcohol companies, and whether the 75% threshold is being reached there or not, it is massively influential.  

Lastly, that it would only apply to Irish media is similarly bogus.  First of all, RTE in it representations appear to be abdicating responsibility for non-TV media, if their head of operations for TV is to the fore.  Does it include RTE player and other online properties?  Second, the it would apply across the Irish media market, and therefore would impact upon the Irish media market, if not perhaps those media broadcast from other jurisdictions that are accessible here - like ITV and Channel 4, but also, and more importantly, the Internet.

RTE is an anachronistic, excessively expensive, wasteful relic of old media spending more money than it needs to in order to replicate a model (the BBC) that it can't possibly aspire to, and destroying entrepreneurial media and ad markets in the process, having a negative overall impact on the Irish economy - to say nothing for the travesty of a license fee that it extorts from the poor Irish households each year (which by the way is another arbitrary tax, evaded by at least 12% of households in 2010, probably higher now, and therefore disproportionately weighing on those who do in fact pay.)  Privatise it and be done with it.

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