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The cost of crap television


Rachel socks it to RTE

In today’s society regressive taxation is all the rage. The Government are coming up with regressive tax measures like they’re being paid bonuses for each one. Hell they probably are! The worst kind of regressive tax for me is the television license. It’s an Orwellian measure that is not just an aggressive invasion of the freedom of the people, but it’s an active participant in broadening the gap between rich and poor. But that’s what all regressive taxes do you may say. You are wise noble reader, very wise.

You see, noble reader, RTE is a commercial AS WELL as a state funding television channel: which does not mean that RTE combines its funding to bring you relevant, informative and interesting television. It means that RTE uses that cash to pay people like Ryan Tubridy an offensive amount of money. The whole concept of being forced to pay for entertainment you don’t necessarily want is so backwards even Rónán Mullen would have a hard-time championing the cause. Not only do we have to pay for the bastarding television license, but we also have to see Brendan O’Connor’s smug face on a Mace ad every time we want to watch Republic of Telly.


Even he's not watching the telly


Buck the system

I’ve been able to negate my anger over the television license over the years by simply not paying it. Sure it’s been a hassle. But the little glow of satisfaction I feel in the pit of my stomach as another year passes made me feel like I was sticking it to the overweight balding man with an over-engorged bank account. Then I heard about the Universal Broadcasting Charge.

The UBC is a new initiative by the government in which they will levy a fee on any home, regardless of whether or not they have a TV. The Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, defended the new levy stating:

A huge number of the population now get their news maybe not from sitting down in front of the 9 o’clock news but accessing arrangements that the public service broadcaster has put in place

Rabbitte seems unaware of the fact that RTE did not invent the internet. Minister Rabitte said that the new levy might, but most definitely will not, be cheaper than the current television license. So I set about reading RTE’s Statement of Strategy 2010-2014 to see what exactly it is that I will be paying for.




RTE state that their aims are to ‘broadcast a wide range of programming, including programmes that are entertaining, informative, educational and inclusive’. Here is what I know about RTE: it does not represent me as an LGBT woman. It doesn’t represent my LGBT peers. The only visibility to be seen for the Irish LGBT community in RTE’s original programming is from Fair City, which has a one or two gay characters spotted about. It seems to me that Fair City appeals to a very niche market; one that I never want to meet. The only other home-grown drama to deal with a gay relationship came in the form of Pavel and Geoff on Raw. A show RTE promptly cancelled in order to feed its resources into Love/Hate.


Foreign imports

Taking the time to look at RTE One’s younger, hotter sister, RTE Two, you’ll see that Grey’s Anatomy, Happy Endings and Revenge are the only shows with LGBT characters airing on the channel this week and all are American imports that I could watch on any other channel that I pay cable for. In terms of transgender visibility, there is none. RTE could easily add Hollyoaks to the bloated list of awful imported soap operas it airs almost hourly and Hit and Miss would fit in well with the late night drama slot on RTE One. But RTE won’t do that, because inclusive does not mean to RTE what it means to LGBT people; people who have grown up in a straight world watching straight-orientated TV. People who only see themselves represented briefly as either the desexualised, crazy or soon to be dead character whose only purpose is to propel the storyline of the straight antagonist.


Idiot! You're paying my wages


Looking at RTE’s new set of documentaries it’s clear that inclusive to RTE means trashy reality shows that make money without costing money. Set to air in 2013 are various documentaries that appeal to certain cultural demographics; teen mothers, displaced Vikings and amateur dramatists. That’s right kids, RTE are tackling the hard-hitting issues in shows entitled Teen Mums, The Only Viking in the Village and Simply Am-Dram.



Put very simple: RTE says it is a channel for the people, but RTE either does not know who the people are or it does not care. RTE is operating on an outdated model: we are no longer a one set household, with a one channel aerial, with one choice.

Television channels today are competing with one another. In a social media savvy world the viewers have a greater say in what we want to watch and TV execs have to listen because it’s their job to make the people happy. Happy viewers tune in, they buy Netflix accounts and they sell ad space. In a world where a TV license is universal, the consumer is unimportant, a faceless entity. I am a faceless entity and RTE doesn’t have to do a damn thing about it.

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One Comment

  • Great article!

    And for anyone wondering the exact breakdown in figures, you can see them here: http://businessetc.thejournal.ie/this-is-exactly-how-your-tv-licence-fee-is-used-542836-Aug2012/

    “Out of the €160 fee, €125 is directed towards RTÉ activities, with the remaining €35 being spent elsewhere.”

    I don’t have a TV but will soon be forced to pay the UBC. I wish there was a tick-the-box option so I could choose where exactly my money goes to!

    Ais said:
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