'MAVERICK'is available from Amazon.co.uk and from Amazon.com.
In fact, far from being a 'maverick' view of broadcasting (that presentation can only have been a misjudged marketing ploy) this book is the result of the author's ( a renowned Irish film maker) forty years experience as an insider and outsider in Irish film making and broadcasting circles. It articulates clearly and with insider knowledge the crisis of broadcasting brought on by the phenomenon of 'the market'.
An indication of its powerful insight into public broadcasting in Ireland is the fact that discussion on it has been effectively censored by the best-known personalities in the incestuous world of Irish Public television and radio. The reason? Many of them are shown in this book as having a vested interest in the trivialisation of broadcasting.
The author's insights ( based on a four- year tenure on RTE's governing body) into the political and economic attitudes of such as Garret Fitzgerald, ex- premier of Ireland, Des Geraghty, head of the most powerful Union in Ireland, two Director-Generals of RTE are quite unique. The self-serving culture of Irish public broadcasting and its total subservience to the pressures of commercial and political expedience, have rarely been so clearly and worryingly dissected.
This book could only have been written by an artist who is a maverick only in the sense that he has not yet submitted to 'branding'
"Mr. Quinn's book deals at length with the author's long battle with RTE over the commercialisation of 'the company', as it now tends to be called. He quotes the current Chairman: "RTE must become more commercial". This ignoble statement points to the imminent demise of the company.
Parents may read Mr. Quinn's book for its close study of the high commercial content of children's programming, which not only prompts children to make greedier demands, especially after the outrageous Toy Show but delivers them up as adults already carrying the bacillus of consumerism.
Mr Quinn's detailed acoount of RTE's pursuit of Anthony Coughlan into the Supreme Court is something every citizen should read. The author was in the boardroom and has the documentation; so his word on the matter can presumably be taken. If his account of a public service broadcaster bending before political pressure be true, it can not be called less than a scandal"
Tom O'Dea, Irish Independent
"One of his central arguments is that RTE was politicised from its inception. 'RTEis at the behest of government in political matters. It has been true since the foundation of 2RN in 1926. Sean Lemass said in 1966 that RTE was an instrument of public policy. The Ray Burke era went way beyond previous interference. But he was'nt the only one. In 1995/96 Jim Mitchell commissioned a study from DKC which tore strips off RTE and changed the way it operated. Two words sum up what Quinn believes resulted from that: 'dumb' and 'down'"
Harry McGee, Sunday Tribune
"Its that rare and welcome thing, a lifting of the veil that covers the decision-making process in institutions of State"
Hugh Linehan, The Irish Times
"A Maverick, for those who have not at some stage included Westerns in their literary diet, is an unbranded calf and by derivation refers to someone who is non-conformist. Many of those at the receiving end of Bob Quinn's judgements of them may feel that the word is inadequate to describe someone who shook the dovecotes and ruffled feathers as vigorously as he did.
The maverick in pursuit of his or her beliefs is vital to the process and this book is a valuable element therein. The existence of mavericks implies that many members of the herd are branded".
Pascal McDaid, Connaught Tribune
Eacht atá déanta aige sa mhéid is go bhfuil sé taréis cultúr na rúndachta a bhaineann leis an eagraíocht sin a bhriseadh ina smidiriní"
Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill, Foinse
"One of the anonymous readers that publishers send their books out to, left a note: 'I wish I had this book when I studied communication". Praise indeed for a book that joins the ranks of McQuail and McLuhan"
Michele Viney Galway Advertiser
"- a commendable attempt to curtail advertising during children's television
programmes - "
William Fay, Sunday Times
"RTE largely comes across as Big Brother in this worrisome tome, with Quinn as a reconstructed Orwell trying to batter down its doors with the voice of reason. Gaybo (Gay Byrne) is its user-friendly ubermeister, his right-wing orientations tolerated, nay endorsed by the powers-that-were because of his huge pulling power vis-a-vis advertising revenue: the life-blood of the station. Which left Quinn's repeated bleatings about more humanitarian concerns fall on rather stony ground"
Aubrey Malone, The Irish Catholic
"We are not so much homo sapiens as Homer Simpsons. We are an American underclass'. We take our brief from their soaperatic inanities, model our chat shows on their philistine rhetoric, and dance to the beat of their dysfunctional drum".
"That too many children are turning into couch potatoes fixated on brand names is indisputable, so his concern cannot be dismissed"
Patricia Deevy, Sunday Independent
Bob Quinn's portrait is an energetic and amusing one of the chaos prevailing in broadcasting. Coming, as it does, after forty years of television, one might politely ask: 'Why no debate?'
Bruce Arnold, Irish Independent
THE MIND-BOGGLING INERTIA OF RTE
"Bob Quinn, author of 'Maverick', talks to Harry McGee about why he wrote what is only the third book in 40 years to take a serious look at RTE
The minutes of the first meeting of the RTE authority that Bob Quinn attended contained an intriguing reference to a "maverick". That little speculative lob was intended for the consumption of one person only, Quinn. Whatever the intention, Quinn took it as a back-handed compliment. He didn't complain when publisher Steve McDonogh at Brandon plumped for it as the title of his second book. But any notion that this is a memoir is quickly brushed away by Quinn. This book is about broadcasting, about television and about RTE in particular.
"You would think that Quinn would have left all deep thoughts about RTE behind aeons ago. He left the station 32 years ago, when TV was hardly past its infancy. He has been based in Connemara since then in the guise of - to use his own juicy phrase - a guerrilla film-maker. It's in that revolutionary mode that Quinn has made his two full-length feature films, both in Irish.
"Quinn says he made Poitín, the ageless classic, because 'I wanted to show that you can make a full-length film 160 miles outside Dublin.' His second feature 'Budawanny' was another triumph of faculties over facilities; a 1920s style silent movie that utilised the full power of Donal McCann's expressive acting.
"One little factoid that Quinn throws out is flabbergasting. Maverick is only the third book in 40 years to take a serious indepth look at RTE.
"My book has three main themes. The first centres around my campaign to get RTE to drop child-targeted advertising, a campaign that ended in pretty predictable failure because of the increasingly commercial environment of the station.
"The second was to explore the relationship between RTE and the government. Put simply, RTE cannot move without government approval, he argues.
"The third theme is why RTE became so capital-centric. 'Raidio Teilifis Dublin' is how Quinn caustically describes it. When he was a member of the RTE authority he tried to get some momentum going to shift output out to the provinces. He points to the fact that there are six regional studios around the country that lie dormant most of the time. 'Why?' is Quinn's simple, question. Now in his sixties, Quinn still retains a huge enthusiasm for film-making and broadcasting. He points out that the book isn't history or study but is an honest appraisal of RTE entirely from his own subjective point of view.
" 'Memory is always subjective. Having said that, the book is as close to the truth as I can get according to my intuitions and insights and 40 years experience.' He concentrates a lot of attention on Ray Burke's era as Minister for Communications. One of his central arguments is that RTE was politicised from its inception.
" RTE is at the behest of government in political matters. It has been true since the foundation of 2RN in 1926. Sean Lemass in 1966 said that RTE was an instrument of public policy. 'The Ray Burke era went way beyond previous interference. But he wasn't the only one. In 1995/1996 Jim Mitchell commissioned a study from DKC which tore strips off RTE and changed the way it operated. However, increasing commercialism wasn't matched by a comparable increase in licence fee. There was a freeze for 14 years and when the increase came, most of it was absorbed by the set-up costs of TG4.' Two words sum up what Quinn believes resulted from that: 'dumb' and 'down'. 'We rarely see a decent programme on RTE nowadays because they have to make their money. The sad reality is that radio remains the only part that is carrying the flag for broadcasting.' In that vast mundane wasteland that he describes, there is one little burst of colour.
"If there is to be salvation Connemara is from where Quinn sees it emanating.
" 'TG4 is the one thing that enables us to survive the toxins of normal television, ' he says robustly. It is the only TV station that gives idiosyncrasies that are Irish a chance to be articulated.' He cites CU Burn, TG4's gently subversive comedy about the shenanigans of a Donegal undertaker, that has spawned two offshoots, an extraordinary achievement compared to the less than side-splitting efforts that have come out of the Donnybrook mothership.
" 'It's one of the truly original comedies to come out of Ireland. It's up there with Fawlty Towers,' says Quinn. That's why he likes TG4. 'TG4 does not have huge resources but at least it has an open mind to ideas. You just cannot say the same about RTE. "What RTÃ‰ does not do is produce programmes from the country and I just don't understand why. It's all this endless unprofessional shit and they forget about the rest of the country.' So what is his own long-term prognosis, the serum that will rid RTE of the poison he sees. His opinion is more sombre than prescriptive. 'It must develop its regional input. Everybody in RTE knows this. I don't know why they haven't gone down that road. They are intelligent people but somehow they seem paralysed.'
" 'It's very sad. I love RTE. As far as I am concerned it's the property of the Irish people. It's very sad to see it become subject to inertia and to abandon its public policy for commercialism.' "
Related Articles by Bob Quinn on the State of Irish National Television and the Irish Film Industry:
If Pigs Could Fly (pdf) - July 2003
Degeneration Gap (pdf) - July 2004
Fáilte go Conamara
The newly restored Atlantean films
are now available on two DVDs in pristine 16:9 format.