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NUJ supports retention of National Symphony Orchestra within public service broadcaster

24 April 2018

The National Union of Journalists has supported the call by the RTÉ Group of Unions for the retention of the National Symphony Orchestra within RTÉ following the publication of the Boaden Review.  

The review by Helen Boaden and media consulting firm Mediatique was published yesterday and recommends that the NSO would be separated from the national public service broadcaster. RTÉ would continue to pay for broadcasting rights.

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, said the solution to the funding crisis in RTÉ was the development of an appropriate funding structure which recognised the cultural value of the orchestras.

Fran McNulty, chair of the union’s sub branch within RTÉ said:

“We stand with our colleagues in the Irish Musicians Union in opposing this move. The RTÉ board must defend the values of public service broadcasting and that applies across all services. The report acknowledges that Ireland is not unique and that orchestras across Europe are under pressure. Is it possible that Ireland could learn from the lessons of other countries and be more imaginative in our approach to funding?”

In a statement supporting the Trade Union Group position, Séamus Dooley said:

“The report correctly diagnoses the problem but suggests a solution which would seriously undermine the public service broadcaster. If there is a case for retaining the National Concert Orchestra under the umbrella of RTÉ – and there most certainly is – the same, compelling case can be made for the NSO.  

"We share the concern of Helen Boaden that without a properly funded and staffed set of orchestras, musicians may have no option but to leave Ireland for work.  Starving the service would be an act of cultural vandalism but I am unconvinced that breaking up the orchestras is a desirable or viable solution.

"RTÉ as the public service broadcaster must continue to play a key role in the protection and promotion of our cultural heritage. The NSO, like the Irish language services and RTÉ archives for example, is a significant part of that heritage and deserves to be funded within the public service broadcasting model.  

"Outsourcing is a slippery slope. We have already witnessed the undermining of the Young People’s department, through outsourcing. The board needs to have the courage to defend its mandate and demand funding for the NSO, rather than handing it over to a new or redesigned cultural institution. Given the mixed record of such institutions, music lovers share with RTÉ employees a genuine fear that the NSO and RTÉ will both suffer because of this proposal.

"RTÉ is unable to deal with the scale of the current financial crisis without a radical overhaul of the licence fee collection system and a licence fee increase. That would require leadership from the Government but if we want a genuine, all-encompassing public service broadcaster it must be properly resourced.”

Tags: , ireland, rté, National Symphony Orchestra, helen boaden, Irish Musicians Union