Dee Forbes delivers the 2017 Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture

Dee Forbes delivers the 2017 Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture

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Dee Forbes (Credit: Navada Group)
Dee Forbes (Credit: Navada Group)

RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes set out her vision for the future of Ireland’s national public service broadcaster at the Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture in mid-November.

Speaking before a packed house at Belfast arts venue, the MAC, Forbes said: “Public service media has never been more necessary or more relevant than it is today.”

She placed a strong focus on young audiences, explaining: “We must now prepare and re-imagine RTÉ for the next generation – a generation that has never been without the internet, the smartphone, on-demand video services, social media and access to the best programming and content from all over the world.”

RTÉ plans to invest in a short-form production unit, the Digital Lab, to create content for online and, in particular, younger audiences.

Forbes also announced that drama would be a key focus, reversing the cuts of recent years. “We plan to fix this over the next five years and help build a strong Irish drama sector,” she said.

Following her lecture, BBC NI broadcaster William Crawley hosted a Q&A, during which Forbes shared her thoughts on Brexit and cross-border working; RTÉ licence fee reform; and advertising.

Forbes advised TV newcomers to talk to as many people as possible in the industry. She recalled the importance of the RTS to her, in terms of building a network of contacts, when she was working in London earlier in her career.

The Dan Gilbert Memorial Lecture has been given since 1997 in memory of Dan Gilbert, a former radio current affairs editor at the BBC and a major figure within the broadcasting community of Northern Ireland. In recent years, the lecture, which is organised by RTS Northern Ireland, has been part of the Belfast Media Festival.