herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Threat to RTE millions over anti-FF claims

RTE was today in the crosshairs of the government and Fianna Fail with threats to cut its millions in licence fee subsidies.

A government spokesman also confirmed that no senior Minister has appeared in the Frontline current affairs show so far this season.

It comes as FF declared war on RTE over what they see as unfair coverage by the broadcaster.

Moreover, only junior ministers have been appearing on Pat Kenny's Frontline, it's been revealed.

"They only ring late Thursday or usually Friday by which time senior Ministers' diairies are full up for Monday when the show goes out," said a government spokesman.

As the country braces itself for massive public service cuts and tax hikes, FF deputies focused their anger on Montrose.

TDs attending the parliamentary party meeting proposed a boycott of Frontline.

Limerick West TD Niall Collins said Fianna Fail guests on the show were treated as "the entertainment".



Depressing

At the meeting, Mr Collins questioned whether the party should have a policy of putting representatives on the programme.

Europe Minister Dick Roche was among those who criticised the broadcaster's coverage.

He said the Department of Communications should continue to pay the TV licence on behalf of pensioners but stop giving the money to RTE.

Some deputies called for the licence fee to be slashed in December's Budget.

The so-called negative tone of Frontline, which some TDs said was depressing people, was also highlighted by deputies.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan was among the TDs critical of RTE.

RTE has become used to onslaughts from the party. Fianna Fail Galway East TD Noel Treacy previously accused RTE's political coverage of bias.

He said: "As far as I am concerned RTE is a left-wing organisation that has not committed itself to promoting policies laid down by the Government or parliament."

The deputy, a former junior minister, said in 2008 that post-Budget discussions on the station "had all left-wing commentators on programmes, without balance".

However, the station pointed out at the time that it was obliged by law to be impartial and objective.

"If Mr Treacy believes we have not been, there is the independent Broadcasting Complaints Commission. He is free to make a complaint and they will investigate," RTE had said.

hnews@herald.ie

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