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Seanad: Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters: Education Costs (13 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach Gníomhach and I thank the Minister of State for taking this Commencement matter on behalf of the Minister for further and higher education. The Minister of State is aware that after a long process to determine how higher education funding should be carried out, the Government committed to addressing that deficit through the publication of a...

Seanad: Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters: Education Costs (13 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: I appreciate that the Minister of State is only giving us the answer that is provided by the Department but the reality is that the additional pay costs that resulted from public sector pay agreements are not being matched by the funding being made available. The Minister of State mentioned that in the last two budgets there has, quite rightly, been an additional €105.7 million...

Seanad: An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business (13 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: I am sure the Acting Leader will join with me in further noting the wonderful success of our athletes in Rome last night. On this occasion, it was the women's 4 x 400 m relay team comprising Phil Healy, Rhasidat Adeleke, Sophie Becker and Sharlene Mawdsley. It re-emphasises how investment in sport pays off. I already paid tribute to our other medal winners earlier this week and looked for...

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: Mr. O'Rourke does not find it difficult managing being both chair of the ESB and RTÉ?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: The ESB has seen record profits being reported. As chair, how does Mr. O'Rourke believe that his experience can turn RTÉ, not into a profit-making organisation, but into a financially sustainable one?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: If the ESB was best in class, how would Mr. O'Rourke classify RTÉ's governance as he moves into his new role?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: In terms of the recommendations from the three reports that are within RTÉ's remit, when does Mr. O'Rourke think they will all be implemented?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: Ms Cusack might want to comment on the implementation of the HR plan. I trust there has been engagement and negotiation with the unions. Where are we with some of those changes?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: I am pleased about where Mr. O'Rourke sees the model going, particularly in terms of a vibrant, independent production sector and supporting that. By the sound of it, the move being talked about is RTÉ becoming more of a publisher broadcaster. Is that correct?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: I want to ask about the funding model, which is critical. As Mr. O'Rourke said, the Government will be making a decision on that. Does Mr. O'Rourke have a personal preference as to what would be the best model?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: Does Mr. O'Rourke think that the current model for the collection of the licence fee is reliable?

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: Okay, so we get away from the current system. My personal view has always been that it should be done through Exchequer funding by means of an arm's length organisation managed by Coimisiún na Meán. I think there is a pretty good relationship between RTÉ and Coimisiún na Meán as the independent body, which is critical. What are Mr. O'Rourke's biggest concerns...

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: It is important to acknowledge the quality of some of the content. We see this in the election coverage and some of the current affairs programmes.

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: Yes, I agree. All of this good content has to be acknowledged. I also welcome a greater emphasis on moving into the digital space and realising that content is king. We have got to create more content, particularly for the digital side. It is probably fair to say that in the past the RTÉ Player did not have the best of reputations. Where does Mr. O'Rourke envisage RTÉ...

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: While I agree there is a lot done but more to do, to use that phrase, we do not have a full house today. Some of what I may call the occasional members of our committee and some visitors have not attended. Maybe it is a sign that there is a recognition that things are starting to happen in RTÉ. I may not agree with all of Kevin Bakhurst's approach, but I think in terms of the general...

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: It is welcome and there is a lot of quality drama being produced in Ireland. RTÉ has been commissioning some of that and it is important. Ms Howard may be aware that this committee is also looking at the issue of how we support regional film and television content production. That is an issue we have been looking at. I do not know if Ms Howard has any perspective on that. It is a...

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media: Engagement with Chairperson to the Board of RTÉ (12 Jun 2024)

Malcolm Byrne: I will also tie in something else in the model on the news side. Apart from regionally in Ireland, there are global inputs and there has been some discussion. During the course of last year there was the impact of closing the London office. I am aware during this election year of having Irish voices reporting on it. It has been a pleasure to hear Yvonne Murray's reporting from the UN on...

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