24 January 2009

RTÉ transmits misleading Radio Ads again

In my opinion there is generally way too much advertisement in this world, but especially here in Ireland, which is highly over-commercialised in every possible way.

This goes so far that public service vehicles used by Waterford City Council carry stickers advertising the private company they are leased from. Ornamental standing stones with the names of town lands and housing estates always carry the name of a private company that paid for it, and there are - believe it or not - even public rubbish bins in our parks and on the streets that sport a small plaque, saying "sponsored by..." followed by the name of a local business.

One of my regular annoyances is that Radio Telefis Éireann (RTÉ), which is the sole recipient of the compulsory national TV licence money (currently € 160 per household per annum), also fills its programmes on both Radio and TV with a large amount of advertisement.
The whole purpose of having a TV licence is to give a broadcaster financial independence from vested interests, in order to make proper and independent programmes free of advertisement.

The BBC does that very well, but RTÉ does not. It takes the licence money, whose payment is actually enforced with drastic measures, including the arcane and almost Dickensian 'TV Licence Inspectors' who apparently "visit 18,000 premises every month". (That alone is a ridiculous and outrageous waste of money, energy and resources and deserves a separate article at some other time.) Watching TV in Ireland without having a TV licence is actually a criminal offence, and each month there are numerous people dragged into court rooms and fined for it. And a few, who do simply not have the money to pay either the licence or the fine, end up in prison, for nothing else than watching television.

Despite all this, the complete output of RTÉ - on both Radio and TV - is heavily commercialised and filled with constant advertisements. On top of that many programmes are also specifically sponsored by a company or product which is mentioned in extra trailers several time throughout the transmission of this programme.

I have turned my back on TV many years ago and only listen to Radio, so I cannot say in detail how much worse it is with RTÉ's TV programmes. But the advertisement content on RTÉ Radio is bad enough and higher than that of some commercial stations, which have no other income than advertisement.

Not enough that listeners are constantly bombarded with unwanted commercials which are even used to interrupt news bulletins, many of the ads transmitted by RTÉ are strictly speaking in breach of broadcasting rules as they are peddling clear lies or make incorrect statements about a company or product. But no-one (except me) seems to care or feel bothered.
Actually, as things are here, anyone can broadcast a complete tissue of lies and get away with it, as long as the last words of the ad are "terms and conditions apply". And it is quite telling that this phrase is the most common in Irish advertising, appearing in about two thirds of all adds I hear on RTÉ Radio. Most significantly they close all ads for banks, insurance companies and all sorts of other financial services.

But the crooks in the big multi-national companies and their henchmen (and women) in the large lying factories known as 'advertisement agencies' do not stop there. Now they even produce ads with clear and plain lies without attaching any verbal safety net at the end.
Not that this is the first time RTÉ has transmitted misleading ads. It happens ever so often, and one wonders if there is any control of the content at all before it goes out on air. Or perhaps it is all the same for RTÉ, as long as they get paid for peddling rubbish and spreading lies.

The latest example of that is a new ad for Opel cars, which I have heard on RTÉ Radio 1 today for the third time. It indicates that at least some US companies have by now realised that their uncritical support of the criminal Bush administration over the past eight years and their overall imperialist approach to marketing are doing some damage to their international sales figures, especially in Asia and Europe.
So now they have decided to use even obvious lies to win over the uninformed and truly gullible elements of the Irish population, which are quite significant in numbers.

This new ad opens with introducing Opel as "a German company", and that is a clear and plain lie. But for many it sounds alright nevertheless, because Opel started as a German company.

Let us look at the facts: The Opel GmbH was indeed founded in Germany 146 years ago, on January 21st, 1863. It first produced various household goods, but soon specialised in sewing machines. By 1895, the year company founder Adam Opel died, they were the largest maker of sewing machines in Europe and also produced each year 2000 bicycles, then a novelty form of transport that was gaining popularity.
Three years later Opel began also building cars, first in partnership with a German inventor and then with a French engineering company. In 1906 they developed their first own model, and by 1913 Opel was the largest car manufacturer in Germany.

After World War I things looked more dire, even though Opel was still the leading car brand in a devastated Germany. But the economic crisis of the late 1920s with hyper-inflation and political instability ruined many a German business forever.
In 1929 Opel was taken over by General Motors of Detroit, USA, the largest car maker in the world then and now.

So even though Opel began as a German company and still has production facilities there, it is actually a 100% American firm and has been for the past 80 years. To call it now "a German company" in an ad for the Irish market is at best misleading, at worst a plain lie. It has not been done in the past, as long as US cars were seen as somehow desireable here. But now, that many people have turned their backs on the USA and anything American for various reasons, suddenly General Motors declares Opel "a German company", hoping to cash in on the fact that Germany has a long, unbroken and exceptional reputation for engineering excellence.

Well, I do not wish to influence anyone here, and I believe that people make up their own minds in any way they see fit. Personally I would never buy or drive an Opel car, nor any other US car, knowing of the way General Motors runs its business (and has been supporting George W. Bush and other leading Republicans for many years with vast sums of money). And though GM is the worst of the lot, Ford and Chrysler are not much better than their larger rival. However, it is not for me to tell you what car to buy and drive. I just hope you know what you are doing and whom you support with your money.

But I strongly resent the fact that RTÉ, our national broadcaster, is offering itself as a willing accomplice to another deliberate tissue of American lies. I am certain that before this current crisis is over we will see many changes in many areas, including broadcasting. And I can assure you - and RTÉ - that I have an excellent memory.

The Emerald Islander


Anonymous said...

AS a matter of fact, Adam Opel Gmbh is registered in Germany,and employs sufficent people in Germany, pays sufficent taxes in Germany and utilises sufficent German resources to be accurately described as German. You say it is NOT German because it is owned by GM: but GM is owned by its shareholders, and many of GM's shareholders will be German, UK, Japanese and US companies etc. so it's not accurate to sescribe it as American!


GM is an American company, and always has been. And more than any other car manufacturer GM is an economic 'vulture', going around the globe and buying up numerous car companies from different countries - from the German Opel in 1929 to the Korean Daewoo in 1999. GM always picks up companies in trouble, strips their best assets and disposes of the rest. Over time cars then appear under brand names which do have no real connection to the product. For example, in the UK Opel cars are sold under the name Vauxhall, and Daewoo cars are now sold in most countries under the brand name Chevrolet (even though they have absolutely nothing in common with the original brand Chevrolet).

You argue that Opel is still a German company because it is registered in Germany, has factories there, "employs sufficent people" and "pays sufficent taxes in Germany".
I presume you mean sufficient. But what does that mean in this context? Absolutely nothing. There is no rule or formula that determines that. How many people does one have to employ - in your opinion - to make a company "German"? And how much taxes does one have to pay?
For example - Dell, Intel and Microsoft have factories and offices in Ireland. They do employ Irish people and pay taxes here. But none of that makes them Irish companies.
It is general practice and international standard that a company is determined by the place and country where its headquarters are based. The identity or nationality of share holders has absolutely nothing to do with it and I wonder who gave you that strange idea.
If shareholders' nationality would determine the nationality of a company, many of the big international firms would be changing their nationality almost constantly, based on who buys or sells shares in them.
With regards to Opel the facts are clear and undisputed: The Adam Opel GmbH, even though registered in Germany, is a 100% subsidiary of GM Europe, which is a 100% subsidiary of GM, registered in Detroit, Michigan (USA). And there is probably no company more American than General Motors.

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Anonymous said...

I thought GM went bust?

Round of applause from me re. the advertising - I'm sick of the way they sell their souls for the cash... it's the beauty stuff that gets me, the promises that 'retinolix ceramide' and sachets of Diet Plan will change my life forever. Such bull.

I think most of the license fees go towards The Plank Kenny's salary :(


Thanks for your comment, Kate. Glad to know that I am not the only one annoyed by the ever present ads on RTE (and I only listen to the Radio).

GM should be bust, and almost was, until they got $ 12 billion from the US government. What for, I wonder... they made bad cars for over 50 years, so they deserve to go bust.

Re. 'the Plank', well, you could be right there. Each time I hear him talking to some politician about a "10% pay cut" I wonder when he will volunteer for such a cut himself. Since he earns € 849,139 a year - which is more than twice as much as the Taoiseach or the US President - that would be quite a good saving for RTE.
But somehow I doubt that Kenny will ever do that. All he does is talking about it when it concerns others.
I think I will write another piece about the money earned by the RTE top people. (I wrote one already last year, on March 3rd, 2008. It is called 'Our dear friends in RTE', in case you want to look it up.)

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