In this article I wish to examine the issue of how the media portray the lrlsh poor with particular reference to the emergence of fund-raising or telethon television. This study Is part of a larger project which examines how the Irish national public service broadcasting organization, Radio Teiefis Elreann (RTE), portrays poverty and the poor through an examination of fund-raising television, factual television (news, current affairs and documentaries) and fictional accounts of poverty (television drama) over a twelve month period. My project represents a significant departure from the existing debate about poverty and the media in an Irish context in that previous research has almost exclusively focused on newspaper coverage of this question. In this article I discuss the emergence of charity television in Ireland; the form and structure of RTE's bi-annual telethon People in Need; I then discuss the messages about poverty and the poor through an examination of four filmed segments' which were broadcast during the telethon in 1992; I conclude by questioning the appropriateness of media responses of this sort to problems such as poverty and need.

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