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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 23 March, 2018

RTÉ says the TV licence fee system needs to be reformed

But that doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in the fee.


RTÉ’S DIRECTOR GENERAL has today briefed staff on the organisation’s new five-year strategy.

Speaking about the plan, Renewing RTÉ for the next generation 2018-2022, Dee Forbes said: “Now is a hugely important time for us. We can’t sit still, we have to change, we have to innovate, we have to be creative, and we have to continue to tell Ireland’s stories.”

The report states that changes in media have “provided audiences with unprecedented content choices”, noting that consumption patterns have “changed and will remain in flux for years”.

As a result of this, RTÉ needs to “adapt to compete”. Its key objectives for the next five years are as follows:

• Serve linear audiences while adopting a digital-first approach
• Know, engage with and better understand audiences
• Reflect Ireland’s diversity on and off air
• Innovate with a new model for short-form content
• Expand and deepen its creative partnerships

RTÉ said, in order to achieve this, its strategy focuses on the following elements:
• Putting the audience first
• Making high-quality content
• Allowing audiences to connect with RTÉ content how, where and when they want


The broadcaster said the five-year strategy, as well as RTÉ’s financial sustainability, are “contingent on several financial assumptions”, including an increase in public funding that includes reform of the television licence fee system.

Forbes previously called for the TV licence fee to be increased from €160 to €175.

In relation to public funding, the report states: “Responding to the digital challenge of a changing media sector requires a fundamental change in public policy that reflects how audiences consume content and how best to fund great public service content.

“Such a review of policy has occurred in several other European countries – such as Germany, Italy, Portugal and Finland – and has improved the sustainability and relevance of PSM (public service media).”

RTÉ said it wants to “ensure that national legislative and regulatory frameworks support the role, development and accountability of PSM in Ireland”.

The report states: “The inefficient licence fee system should be reformed to support this policy and increase public funding levels for the benefit of the entire Irish media sector. There are a variety of reform options and choices available to Government.

The financial model that underpins this strategy is based on conservative estimates around television licence reform and on the premise that RTÉ would not be the only beneficiary of this reform.

“The current levels of evasion (15%) and the high cost of collection (5.5%) provide significant scope for reform without any increase in the licence fee. More than €40 million in additional public funding would become available if the system was modernised.”

RTÉ said this extra money “would principally be invested in the independent sector to create world-class content relating to core public service priorities”, with 50% of the funding being spent in Ireland’s independent sector and thereby creating jobs.

In June 2017, RTÉ sold off nearly nine acres of land at its headquarters in Donnybrook in Dublin 4 for €107.5 million. It has also sought redundancies in recent years to help its flagging financial situation.

The organisation’s losses for 2016 topped €20 million, up from €2.8 million the previous year, after it spent money on high-profile events such as the centenary of the Easter Rising and the Olympics.

News and sport 

RTÉ has specific plans for areas such as news, sport, drama, comedy, documentaries and scientific programming.

In relation to news, the broadcaster plans to:

  • Produce more content that will be available to audiences on-demand on RTÉ and through social media
  • Maintain existing core news programmes and bulletins on television and radio
  • Continue to hold those in authority to account and host the national conversation through its current affairs content

media The current media landscape Source: RTÉ

In terms of sport, the broadcaster said it will:

  • Bring the nation together through sporting events central to Irish culture
  • Offer major sporting events of significant importance to Irish audiences
  • Complement and embrace coverage beyond major sporting events
  • Provide breadth and depth, notably through its daily output


The broadcaster said it also wants to “captivate audiences and celebrate our country’s rich diversity”.

The report notes: “Knowing audiences in Ireland, reflecting them and engaging with them is crucial. RTÉ will focus on attracting younger audiences while retaining other traditionally loyal audiences.

“Locally produced content needs to be protected to ensure that Ireland continues to have a vibrant creative sector that reflects Irish culture, stories and society.

The content priorities embedded in this strategy are to offer greater variety and diversity, including long and short form, live and on-demand; and to increase partnerships with Ireland’s creative sector.

“RTÉ wants to give people more choice and control as to how, when and where they connect with and consume its content.”

RTÉ said its progress in implementing the strategy will be “continuously assessed” by indicators that will “evolve and change to meet RTÉ’s requirements as it strives to satisfy audience needs and respond to the ever-changing media marketplace”.

Read: RTÉ boss calls for hike in TV licence fee to €175

Read: RTÉ has sold off part of its Donnybrook HQ for more than €100m

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