Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.8 MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS, Radio and Television

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) to the Technological University Dublin, 2011.


Developments in the media industry, notably the increasing commercialisation of broadcasting and deregulation, have combined to create a television system that is now driven primarily by ratings. Public broadcast organisations must adopt novel strategies to survive and compete in this new environment, where they need to combine public service with popularity. In this context, scheduling has emerged as the central management tool, organising production and controlling budgets, and is now the driving force in television. Located within Weber’s theoretical framework of rationalisation, this study analyses the rise of scheduling as part of a wider organisational response to political and economic pressures. It is based on a longitudinal analysis of the RTÉ television schedules and interviews with key personnel involved in scheduling. The analysis tracks changes in programme output between 1990 and 2005, a period of fundamental change in the Irish broadcast landscape. In-depth, semi-structured interviews with producers and senior management from RTÉ Television provide an insight into the constraints, dilemmas and choices at the centre of programme scheduling. The dissertation argues that scheduling has been transformed from a marginal administrative function to a highly rationalised organisational system. It functions as a strategic management tool, enhancing competitiveness, cost efficiency and accountability. This is a practical and reasonable response to the demands of increasing competition and political pressure for efficiency and accountability. However, this dissertation considers whether the ‘means’ adopted in such survival strategies are in fact incompatible with the 'ends' of public service broadcasting.