RTE move to assuage Fair City fears after 'outsourcing' rumours
RTÉ management have moved to assure staff that the long-running soap Fair City will not be 'outsourced' outside of Montrose.
Adrian Lynch, Channel Controller of RTÉ One and RTÉ Two, took to the airwaves this evening to insist Fair City would remain an "in-house" production of RTÉ.
In a hard-hitting interview with Mary Wilson on RTÉ Radio One's 'Drivetime' programme, Mr Lynch said: "Fair City is not going to be outsourced".
However, he added that management at the national broadcaster would have to make "extremely unpalatable" decisions in the months ahead due to Brexit.
His comments come two days after RTÉ announced they were to outsource their programming for children and young people.
This does not mean that there would be a decrease in output - but meant programmes would no longer be made "in-house" and would lead to savings in operational costs.
Some 15 contractors with the department were told their contracts were to finish by the end of the year, and RTÉ staff working in the section would be redeployed elsewhere.
Prior to Mr Lynch's interview on 'Drivetime', management announced they had entered into a consultation process with the RTÉ Trade Union Group (TUG), after meeting with them earlier today.
This move means that the contracts of 15 contractors had been extended until January 31.
During this evening's interview, broadcaster Mary Wilson said: "Now following political, media and internal uproar, you have decided to have an internal consultation with the union."
"We absolutely respect the union's point of view," Mr Lynch replied.
Mr Lynch continued to say that RTÉ took the decision as commercial income as the broadcaster had suffered in the wake of Brexit.
He also warned that due to the "Brexit effect", management would have to make a number of "unpalatable decisions".
When asked what other areas RTÉ are looking to outsource, he repeated they would "have to make some difficult decisions if Brexit keeps rolling on".
Earlier in the interview, the channel controller said that many media organisations were suffering, and he was aware of a number of companies closing with losses of jobs.
The independent sector has suffered, he added.
RTÉ once spent €80m in the sector - this figure now stands at €40m, he said.
Despite the financial difficulties, the national broadcaster still wants to lead in the way in terms of their quality news, current affairs, documentaries, entertainment and drama sections.
While confirming they had now entered into a consultation process with the unions regarding the outsourcing of output for children, he would not say whether this would lead to a reversal of the decision.
He told listeners that they had been engaged in meetings with the unions all day before his interview.
A statement from TUG was issued after the meeting, which discussed the decision to transfer all young people's programming to the independent sector.
"RTÉ accepted that there has been a breach of the 'Guiding Principles Agreement' which commits to prior consultation on significant issues," said SIPTU Campaigns and Equality Organiser, Karan O'Loughlin.
"It has been agreed that union and management representatives will enter into comprehensive discussions on this matter in line with our agreements. Discussions will conclude no later than January 31 2017.
"Throughout the forthcoming period of talks we will be ensuring that our members interests are protected and the public service ethos of the station are safeguarded."