Editor Religious Programmes: Roger Childs

RTÉ Religious Programmes

UPDATED: Monday 03rd November 2014

10 x 55' + 1 x 90' Christian worship OBs + 3 x 10'minority faith festival broadcasts.

Technical requirements: HD. 16:9. Stereo with simulcast radio feeds where required.

From 1st February 2015 to 31st January 2016

RTÉ Religious invites proposals for an occasional series of simulcast Christian Worship outside broadcasts and short minority faith festival films.

The aim of these broadcasts is to complement our schedule of in-house, studio-based TV worship in a way that reflects and celebrates the diverse spectrum of Christian belief, practice, talent and worship across the 32 counties Ireland.

The programmes must be accessible, entertaining and inspirational to a mainstream RTÉ One audience. Our priority is therefore to find the events, places, themes, people, stories and forms of worship that will resonate most with our audience. We aim to continue to show Christian worship as an integral part of the life and culture of this country - diverse and creative, prayerful and passionate. Whatever the denomination of the worship we feature, it must feel inclusive and welcoming to members of other Churches and whatever style of music or liturgy we feature, it must be high quality and well produced.

The commission is for eleven Outside Broadcasts in the twelve months beginning 1st February, 2015. For liturgical reasons, any Masses we broadcast must be live, but we are also open to the possibility of packaged or pre-recorded formats and approaches to reflect other forms of worship. Even live broadcasts should include VT elements to introduce and contextualise the location, contributors and any religious themes of the day.

Many of those who watch RTÉ's Sunday morning Religious programmes are unable to get to church, through sickness or immobility. They may depend on this element of our output for a sense of community and spiritual nourishment. We must continue to meet that need. However, we should not limit our audience to those who cannot get out to church. An imaginative approach to the selection of locations, themes and contributors is therefore vital, in order to attract and retain a mainstream RTÉ One audience, including some who already attend church services elsewhere and others who might not expect to enjoy religious programmes of this nature.

Included in the brief is the expectation that the successful production company will provide live, simulcast worship broadcasts on St Brigid's Day, St Patrick's Day, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We currently commission pairs of broadcasts from a single location at Christmas and Easter and would certainly be open to continuing this, in order to make the most of rigging and lighting large or spectacular locations on these festivals. Every year, RTÉ shares at least one Mass OB with Eurovision partners, facilitating commentators on location, where necessary. In 2015, our Eurovision Mass will be on All Saints Day (1st November) and will coincide with the 1400th anniversary of the death of St Columbanus. This, too, is therefore part of the brief.

How, when and where the OBs are deployed will be determined in consultation with the Genre Head of Religious Programmes, Roger Childs, who is open to suggestions about the events and locations most deserving of outside broadcast coverage or most likely to attract mainstream audiences. Past examples have ranged from Mass from the top of Croagh Patrick or from Station Island, Lough Derg, to packaged coverage of the Gospel Rising Festival, Bray or the annual Emmanuel School Choirs event at The Helix. In every case, the expectation is that a stereo audio feed will also be available to RTÉ Radio, together with appropriate billings information and suggested radio Presentation announcements.

Included with this commission are 3 x 10-minute programmes per year to complement in-house output in marking some of the main festivals of Ireland's minority faiths - e.g. Diwali, Ramadan, Vaisakhi, Rosh Hashanah, etc. Which festivals are included with this commission will be decided in consultation with the Editor of Religious Programmes, but proposals should contain suggestions, including dates and possible contributors / narrative approaches. The emphasis with these films is to find stories and characters who will engage a mainstream Irish audience, who may have little experience of the featured minority. Films therefore need to foster greater understanding of those faith communities as part of the rich, diverse fabric of contemporary Irish life.

Production companies will need to demonstrate not only the technical capability to deliver high quality single and multi-camera output, but also an understanding of liturgy and a clear grasp of the religious culture and sensibilities of today's Ireland. They will be working mainly with amateurs at grassroots level to produce highly professional results on screen.

Our maximum budget is €375,000, comprising €355,000 for the 11 outside broadcasts and a further €20,000 for the 3 minority faith festival programmes. However, we will welcome more cost-effective proposals.

Closing date for submission is 21st November with the first transmission to take place on St Brigid's Day, 1st February, 2015. Offers will need to include detailed, date specific and deliverable plans with that in mind.

We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:
under the programme category " Religious 2015"

Submissions should be received by 12 noon on Friday 21st November 2014. Strict Deadline


RTÉ Religious Programmes commissioning budget for 2013-14 is already fully committed to Worship programmes, following previous commissioning processes.

However, we would welcome proposals with funding from other sources, which will broaden and enrich the existing Religious slate. A number of possible sources of funding are listed below. No slots are currently allocated to these ideas, but all areas of the schedule are open to consideration.
It's important that proposals don't replicate ideas and types of programming currently available from Religious Programmes' existing strands:

Would You Believe? (Ireland's longest-running documentary series covers a broad range of religious and spiritual subjects, using a variety of narrative styles and approaches, from profiles to investigations.)

The Meaning of Life, with Gay Byrne (one-to-one interviews with a broad range of public figures about the way life shapes, and is shaped by, their beliefs and moral values.)
Beyond Belief (Mick Peelo presents a series of studio-based discussions, exploring the interface between religion and current affairs.)

The Moment of Truth (Blathnaid n­ Chofaigh explores the context and consequences of life-changing religious, ethical and social choices through one-to-one interviews.)

Worship (weekly Christian Masses and Services, plus Christmas and Easter ceremonies.)

Festivals ( marking and exploring a variety of minority faith festivals.)

iWitness (short, nightly reflections that attempt to capture "the spirit of Ireland, one voice and one minute at a time.)

So, what aren't we currently doing, for which independent producers might be able to attract funding from non-RTÉ sources?


Most of our in-house output has a contemporary Irish outlook. So, what are the stories and subjects which could add historical context and depth to that?

E.g. entertaining and intelligent archive-based formats - perhaps revisiting stories, places and characters from the past and/or seeing what has changed. Recent successes in this area include The Radharc Squad. In production, we have a feature documentary about Glasnevin Cemetery and an observational film about body donors to Trinity College Dublin's school of anatomy.
One-off docs and short series shedding new light on the familiar stories or revealing intriguing new stories from the past. Recent output has included On God's Mission, which explored the story and legacy of the Irish Catholic missionary movement, and Lifers, which brought this story up to date.

Now is an interesting time to take stock of the changing position of the Catholic Church in Irish society and beyond. But also, think beyond Catholicism: from Quakers to Bahais, from the Orange Order to Pagans, we are open to proposals and stories which explain the nature and impact of faith in Ireland in fresh and engaging ways.

And what about the history of ideas? At a time when Science and Religion are trying to decide whether they are opposites or partners, we would welcome proposals which bring that complex and combustible relationship to life on television in a way that engages and informs a mainstream RTÉ audience.
Whatever the subject, the approach must be both authoritative and entertaining. Religion should not be po-faced. Be clear what you're trying to say and find creative, compelling ways to say it.


Think RICE: we need programmes which Reflect, Interrogate, Celebrate and Explain the beliefs, practices and identities of Ireland's minority faith communities through strong, engaging stories and characters. As a rule of thumb, don't treat minority issues as minority interest issues. We are a broadcaster, not a narrowcaster.

Look for ways in which various religious outlooks offer a different perspective on familiar subjects (education, health, births, marriages, deaths). Don't patronise; don't wear kid gloves; do respect; do ask hard questions, then think of ways of bringing the answers entertainingly to light.

Also, see commissioning opportunities available under "Regional & Diversity":


When different moral and religious outlooks rub shoulders in a diverse and changing society, there can be conflict, creativity or confusion. Who's right? Who's wrong? And how do we know?
On subjects as diverse as faith schooling, adoption, fertility treatment, euthanasia, genetics, marriage, sex and sexuality, important ethical and religious debates are currently taking place. How best can we bring these to television in ways which inform, challenge and entertain a mainstream audience? And what about the ethical challenges we will face in the future. What are they and how will we meet them?

We particularly welcome ideas that make creative use of format to engage younger audiences and the "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual" generation in energetic and informed ethical debate.


As well as looking for possible co-production partners, you may wish to look for funding from other sources. Each will have its own funding and commissioning criteria, which must be studied carefully, alongside RTÉ's . Please talk to Roger Childs, Head of RTÉ Religious Programmes before approaching these or other bodies about AFP or co-production possibilities.

The BAI Sound & Vision Fund ( http://www.bai.ie/funding_sound_vision.html );

Jerusalem Productions (http://www.jerusalemproductions.org.uk/tvguidelines.html);

The Simon Cumbers Media Fund (www.simoncumbersmediafund.ie/ );

The Dept of Foreign Affairs Anti-Sectarianism Fund (http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=42931);

The Wellcome Trust (http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/Funding/Public-engagement/Funding-schemes/Broadcast-Development-Awards/index.htm);

The Templeton Foundation (http://www.templeton.org/what-we-fund/core-funding-areas/) .


We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:
under the programme category "Religion Genreal"

Please note:
The discussion of, or initial interest in, a proposal does not represent a commitment to commission by RTÉ and should not be understood as such.

Commissioning decisions will reflect the quality of proposals received and the scheduling priorities operating at the time. RTÉ's financial position will also be a factor.

Any proposals previously submitted to RTÉ in categories listed here, and which were rejected on a first reading in a previous Round, should not be re-submitted and will not be reconsidered.


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