No Helpline at the end of Fair City

The central storyline in RTÉ’s mainstay soap, Fair City, centres on domestic abuse between Damien Halpin (Maclean Burke) and his wife Suzanne (Sarah Flood). As a programme that attracts 645,200 viewers on average (source: http://tvsales.rte.ie/insights/topprogrammes.htm), I was surprised that RTÉ did not put a Helpline at the end of the programme.

Admittedly I missed the beginning where a Helpline was possibly aired, but for such a serious issue, surely RTÉ should air a Helpline at the end too.

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The BAI in Action Today

The Limerick Leader reports the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has rejected an appeal of a James Clark that Dara O’Briain blasphemed on The Late Late Show last November regarding a stump at Rathkeale. Clark suggested that O’Briain’s comment was ‘blasphemous, insulting and showed his clear lack of knowledge.’

O’Briain was promoting BBC‘s Three Men in a Boat when he stated: ‘I kept trying to steer us away from things, like they kept on wanting to go to Rathkeale. Do you know what’s in Rathkeale? The Holy Stump, the bit of a tree. I can say this now. It’s a tree. It could look like anything, a bun in a tree. It looks like isobars. I had to keep steering them away from this.’

RTÉ responded to Clark’s statement that ‘most people in Ireland today would be highly sceptical of claims of apparition and would find nothing wrong in such claims being satirised or treated as suitable subject matter for jokes,’ and added no other complaints of this nature were made.

Furthermore, RTÉ added ‘If upsetting one viewer was sufficient to uphold a complaint, many programmes would regularly find themselves in breach. No one was harmed by this gentle and unmalicious joke.’

Clark suggested in his complaint that O’Briain did not know ‘its (the stump’s) importance to Ireland.’ I’m not sure which is more laughable the complaint, or the suggestion that a stump is of religious importance.

In another matter, Tom Dunne today on Newstalk apologized for comments by Nell McCafferty made on air yesterday (11th March 2010) who made personal derogatory remarks about the Mary Harney, the Minister for Health. On a lighter note, Brenstrong, on Twitter, suggested ‘No one should apologise for nellgate. That way, Mary Harney will understand the frustration of no one being responsible.’

RTÉ Struggles with Light Entertainment

The Irish Independent (‘Let’s hope TV3’s ratings success forces RTÉ to step up its game’ – 12th November 2009) reports that RTÉ2’s light entertainment shows have been suffering in the ratings war as The Republic of Telly had an audience of 113,000 and Karl Spain Wants to Rock with 67,000 viewers last week.

The same week, 333,000 viewers on RTÉ1 watched Pat Kenny being lambasted by a member of the audience on Frontline, now a Youtube hit. TV3 enjoyed success with The Apprentice and The Apprentice – Your Fired netting a 493,000 and 297,000 audience respectively. Interestingly in the latter programme the fired contestant, Ruth, failed to show up.

I agree with John Boland, when he states that some of the home entertainment shows ‘have been wretched’.  It seems a half-hearted attempt by the national broadcaster spending the licence payer’s money on shows that don’t attract ‘the younger audience they so desperately crave’. RTÉ2 is out of touch with its chosen demographic.  If a show on an American network received a rating of 67,000 viewers it would be quickly dumped. 

That said TV3 seem intent on tried formulas taken in from abroad as Deal or No Deal hosted by the magician Keith Barry starts tonight, although it has upped its home-produced shows such as Tonight with Vincent Price and Midweek. Hopefully, TV3’s new two-part crime drama series The Guards will help TV3 improve its success when it comes to air in February 2010.

Poor RTÉ Sports Coverage?

I posted recently that Naoise Ó’Muirí, a Fine Gael councillor, reads this blog Fine Gael Councillor asks for Athletics Coverage, and read today in The Northside People, a local newspaper, that due to the poor scheduling from RTÉ he wants €20 back from the TV licence he paid.

RTÉ’s response was interesting. A spokeswoman claimed that the company did provide suitable sports coverage on television, including athletics such as the European Championships, Indoor Championships and Irish Championships. The World Championships were adequately covered in the News so as to not warrant its own programme. That is a poor excuse.

I think I could do with €20 so I could do Euromillions tomorrow.

Fine Gael councillor asks for Athletics Coverage

It seems Naoise Ó Múirí, Fine Gael councillor, reads my blog (ahem) as he demanded that RTÉ’s failure to ‘provide television coverage of the World Championships in Berlin was a major mistake.’

Ó Múirí went further and suggested that RTÉ reduce his licence fee by €20 because of the substandard TV schedule. Hmm… I wonder if he was referring to the new RTÉ autumn schedule.

RTÉ’s Autumn Schedule

RTÉ’s autumn schedule has been launched last week and there are a few interesting programmes on the list, Killers Profiles, John Connolly: Of Blood and Lost Things and The Eclipse.

There are several other new programmes to be shown during the autumn schedule which could make up for some interesting viewing. I was interested to see the replacement for the Fianna Fáil-centric Questions and Answers, which seems to be re-hashed under The Frontline hosted by Pat Kenny. This seems to be the same programme under a different name. Pity. I hope it doesn’t become another Fianna Fáil Party Political Broadcast.

RTÉ has also brought back some favourites which seems conservative, as Pure Mule makes another Rolling Stones type return in a ‘once off’ episode. It is disappointing that The Eclipse is the only new Irish drama shown by the state broadcaster, as Irish TV does need new blood.

Irish Coverage of Athletics

Congratulations to Olive Loughnane who got a silver medal in the 20KM walk in the Berlin World Championships.

Thankfully, I was able to see some of the coverage on BBC2 and Eurosport, but there was no coverage on RTÉ or TV3. Since the likes of John Treacy, Eamon Coughlan and Marcus O’Sullivan were flying the flag for Ireland in the Olympics and World Athletics Championships, RTÉ had the grace to show the events. But since, there has been a dearth in Irish participation in Athletics meets partially due to the lack of interest from RTÉ and to a lesser extent TV3.

It is a shame that the World Championships weren’t included in the Irish schedules this year or for the past few years. If the Irish are to retain some interest in athletics, it is imperative that they be shown on Irish terrestrial television. Otherwise, Ireland will not have athletes in the future. Irish sport needs to be promoted in order to receive the participation and the plaudits it deserves.

Thankfully, BBC interviewed Olive after her impressive result.