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CITY TRIBUNE

RTÉ’s cutbacks at Nuacht a threat to TG4’s ‘súil eile’

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Súil eile; another eye, a different perspective. It’s TG4’s motto, its ethos. It means different things to different people but fundamentally súil eile encapsulates the Irish language television channel’s raison d’être.

TG4, in order to carve out a niche, and to distinguish itself from the pre-existing public service broadcaster, had to be more than just the Irish language version of RTÉ.

To achieve the distinction, TG4 created its unique identity in the eyes of viewers, through commissioning brilliant original documentaries, like Laochra Gael and Fíorsceál, and buying in quirky or edgy ratings hits like Nip/Tuck and Oz.

It showed Westerns or ‘cowboy’ movies, but also showcased original, Irish-produced content from travel (Manchán Magan) to unusual dating (Paisean Faisean). Sport is another big selling point. It brought Wimbledon back into terrestrial-TV-only homes; it has contributed to the exponential growth in popularity of women’s Gaelic Games; and it has been innovative in how it presents and analyses live sport – mid-game interviews with rugby coaches, just one example of this.

Different perspectives are a feature of TG4’s news and current affairs output, too.

Obviously, what’s considered news in English is news in Irish too, but Nuacht TG4 covers different stories than RTÉ, and covers the same stories differently; a súil eile.

That unique selling point is now under threat – from RTÉ.

Many viewers are unaware that Nuacht, which is broadcast on TG4 daily at 7pm, is supplied to TG4 by RTÉ. As of mid-May, RTÉ cutbacks will limit the camera crew available to Nuacht on Saturdays and Sundays, and also on Tuesdays.

RTÉ said this was to reduce duplication but it erodes the editorial independence of Nuacht. It means that, on those days, editorial decisions for Nuacht will be dictated by the bigwigs in Donnybrook, Dublin 4, because if there’s a scarcity of cameras, RTÉ will take precedence.

So what’s the practical implication of this?

Say, for example, a well-known Irish writer died in Dublin at the weekend. Nuacht would want an obituary but because it wouldn’t really register with the English news, it wouldn’t be done.

Weekend stories from Gealtachtaí in Ráth Chairn in Meath and An Rinn in Waterford would almost definitely be ruled out under the new regime. Even covering stories relevant to the Conamara Gaeltacht, which need clips of Galway West politicians, who may still be in Dublin, wouldn’t be possible.

What the cuts could lead to is more TV reports with file footage and without talking heads; less content unique to Nuacht, and more reports that are just a translation of the English news.

Nuacht reporters are the guinea pigs for RTÉ innovations, such as self-editing. And yet the Nuacht is always first in the firing line for cuts, the low-hanging fruit.

A load of people in RTÉ in Dublin need reminding that they get the licence fee in part because of the Irish language. They don’t get State support for commercially viable shows like the Late Late Show. They have duties and commitments under the Broadcasting Act.

It’s time RTÉ stopped trying to downgrade Nuacht to a translation service at weekends, by poking its ‘súil eile’ out.

(Photo: The Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael D Higgins, and Connemara based film maker Bob Quinn, at the official opening of Telefis na Gaeltachta).
This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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