TG4’s newly appointed Ardstiúrthóir Alan Esslemont has unveiled a new programme commissioning model for independent producers. Speaking at a day-long information session in Galway today, attended by over 200 production personnel from companies throughout Ireland, Mr Esslemont also gave details of the Irish language channel’s fresh scheduling strategy, aimed at serving the different needs of the Irish language community and of the wider audience.
As Ireland’s only publisher/broadcaster, TG4 works in a unique partnership with the independent production sector, from which it sources all of the channel’s TV content. The new initiative sees TG4 offering producers the opportunity of bidding for multi-annual output deals across a range of programme genres with the successful applicants obtaining multi-annual contracts worth over a million euros each. This scale of production in output deals will allow companies to scale their operations and plan their finances in a way that is not the norm in the Irish TV production sector.
The four programme genres on offer span a wide range of content (Programmes, Gradam Ceoil TG4, Drama and Arts). At today’s briefing, producers were told that they have three months to research and draft their applications and scope out the productions before submitting their offer in late April https://www.tg4.ie/en/production/commissioning/
Mr Esslemont took up his new post as head of TG4 in mid-October 2016. He had worked with Teilifís na Gaeilge for the first twelve years of its operation and oversaw the rebranding to TG4 before returning to his native Scotland in 2008 to work on the establishment of the Gaelic language channel BBC ALBA. At today’s session in Galway he outlined the many benefits that this model has brought in other Celtic countries. He also emphasised that it offers Gaeltacht-based production companies the opportunity to develop and plan their future with some financial certainty:
“These are uncertain times for the TV industry in Ireland and TG4 is very conscious of the need to offer our partners in the independent sector and in the Gaeltacht the opportunity to realise their undoubted potential. The model we are adopting provides the basis for planning and for partnership and to work together on maximising the public investment in this key component of the creative industries,” he said.
Mr Esslemont also confirmed that the channel will be seeking additional public funding from the Minister for Communications to allow it to restore the investment it makes in the independent sector to at least pre-recession levels.