MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS Alex White said a working group is currently assessing the best use of the RTÉ site in Donnybrook.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, he said the site of the public service broadcaster was developed in the 1960s and has large grounds.
He said the broadcasting sector operated much differently back then, and the Dublin property market was also different.
While he would not state for definite that part of the site could be up put up for sale at some time in the future, he did say RTÉ “needs to be vigilant with their costs”.
A new report published by the minister shows that the avaerage RTÉ salary remains high and that salaries are on the rise again. He said RTÉ had to continue to work to keep costs down.
He said expected the new board in place at the public service broadcaster to meet with him before the summer with responses to the issues of cost savings that could be made.
Speaking about the licence fee, White said the government plans to pursue UPC and Sky customers who have not paid their licence fee.
“They clearly have TV sets, surely An Post could use that data to ensure their TV licence is paid,” he said.
He admitted that this could raise data protection issues, but said that government will bring in legislation to make it legal and any data protection issues will be addressed in that data legislation.
He said there were also plans in the works to improve the TV licence database to catch out those evading the payment.
Paying a broadcasting charge over all devices
White said he is not convinced that passing on some of the licence fee to private operators such as TV3 and UTV Ireland is in the best interests of the viewer.
He said he was “not convinced the spreading the licence fee so thinly” across so many different organisations would be the best option to the viewer or the listener.
The minister said the government still plan to reform the TV licence fee by replacing it with a broadcasting charge.
He said government were developing a model and looking at how things are done internationally. White added it would not be “device specific” and it would not be a new charge, merely replacing the fee that people pay already.
“We need a new way to pay for public service broadcasting,” said the minister, adding that it was also important to have a “dynamic commercial landscape too”.
“I want to protect and ensure that we have an organisation like RTÉ that will do all the programming it does and satisfy audiences across the board.”
White said he had concerns about the private and commercial sector having a “level playing field on which to do their job”.
While the government works on what the new broadcasting charge will look like, White said that TV licence evasion is something it still plans to pursue.
The minister also commented on further on RTÉ’s finances, stating the organisation had done a lot to reduce costs in the last few years.
He would not be pushed on whether the sale of 2FM was on the cards stating that RTÉ must provide a broad range of packages for its viewers and listeners.
“It is a matter for RTÉ to do what they have to do under the broadcasting act.”