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Mark Stedman/
Annual Report

RTÉ's annual report shows broadcaster recorded deficit of €2.8 million last year

The report shows that licence fee revenue had fallen before the scandal surrounding undisclosed payments to Ryan Tubridy broke this year.

RTÉ RECORDED A deficit of €2.8 million last year, according to its 2022 annual report.

The report, published today, found that licence fee revenue had declined year on year in 2022. Licence fee revenue has fallen further since the scandal surrounding undisclosed payments made by the national broadcaster to former presenter Ryan Tubridy.

In a statement accompanying the report, chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh said it was “finalised before the crises and turbulence of recent times and before the announcement of a series of organisational changes and reforms in RTÉ”.

She said the organisation was now dealing with the legacy of a “siloed and dysfunctional culture”. 

“As an organisation we cannot shy away from the shortcomings and challenges that have been identified. Nor will we,” the statement reads. 

The report also includes a statement by former director general Dee Forbes, prepared before she stepped down earlier this year. 

It comes as Media Minister Catherine Martin told reporters after a Cabinet meeting today that the projected licence fee deficit for this year is expected to be €21 million

According to the annual report, €221.5 million in licence fees was collected last year. Of this, €195.6 million (88%) was received by RTÉ. This is down €500,000 compared to 2021.

The report states that the remaining licence fee collected in 2022, €25.9 million, was used to pay An Post collection costs and related charges and to provide funding for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) Sound & Vision Fund. 

Operating costs at the broadcaster increased by €17.1 million “as production of both in-house and commissioned programmes returned to pre-COVID levels”.

These costs include the two payments of €75,000 made to Tubridy, which were recorded in the barter account as a charge of €115,000 each, “being the grossed-up cost to the barter account when allowing for 35% commission”.

The total of €230,000 is included in the overall operating costs of €339.3 million reported by RTÉ for last year. It is included in the “other third-party costs” figure of €42.45 million.

“For the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that, subsequent to the completion of this report, Grant Thornton LLP established that the payments in question were not, in fact, promotion costs,” Ní Raghallaigh said.

The report also shows that Forbes saw her basic salary increase to €233,000 last year, up from €225,000 in 2021. She also received a car allowance of €25,000 and her pension contribution came to €58,000, an increase of €2,000 on the previous year.

Her expenses also tripled from €2,119 in 2021 to €6,056 last year. 

Members of the broadcaster’s executive board, including Forbes, all received a 10% increase last year. 

“No performance-related pay was awarded or paid in respect of 2022 or 2021,” the report states.

“As part of cost reduction initiatives prior to the onset of the global pandemic, the members of the Executive had agreed to a salary reduction of 10%, this reduction was reinstated from September 2022.”

Commercial revenue increased by 2.6% to €152.1 million, but TV spot advertising, which is the single biggest contributor to commercial revenue, declined by 1.3%. 

The report states that advertiser confidence “was disrupted by the war in Ukraine and increasing energy costs”.

“Continuing supply chain issues and the inflationary environment further hit advertiser confidence. Revenues improved towards the end of the year with significant advertiser demand around the FIFA World Cup,” it reads.

Other TV trading revenue, including sponsorship and product placement, increased by 5.7%.  Radio trading, which includes spot, sponsorship and promotions, was up 1.2%, although radio spot advertising declined by 1.8%.

Sales of the RTÉ Guide were also down 10% year on year, with 1.7 million copies sold last year. This includes a 9% decline in sales of the Christmas issue, which sold 240,600 copies.

The report says Toy Show, The Musical was staged as part of RTÉ’s strategy to develop live ticketed events and acknowledges that “ticket sales were below expectations”.

In July, documents provided to the Oireachtas committees showed that Toy Show, The Musical made a loss of over €2.2 million after selling just 11,044 tickets across 27 shows.

In her statement, Dee Forbes said that “despite many challenges, I am very proud of what RTÉ achieved in 2022″.

She said the broadcaster entered 2022 with the hope that it would reach a turning point in national investment in public service media following the publication of the Future of Media Commission report.

“The funding solution proposed in the Future of Media Commission Report was the only recommendation not supported by Government. RTÉ will continue in its efforts to make the case for reform to ensure the future of public service media in Ireland. It has never been so important,” she said.

The latest data on the level of licence fee evasion from 2020 shows that the rate stands at 15.2%.

The annual report states that this rate is ”significantly higher” than the UK, which has an evasion rate of 8.9% for the same period, along with other European countries, with collection costs here more than double other European public service broadcasters.

The release of the report comes on the same day that Ryan Tubridy made his first return to the airwaves following the payments scandal.

In an interview with Chris Evans, he joked about a possible move to the UK and said he had presented radio shows in the UK in the place of Terry Wogan and Graham Norton, whenever producers were after an “Irish lilt”. 

There was no mention of the pay scandal that saw him dropped from his RTÉ Radio programme, or his Oireachtas committee grillings in the short interview with Evans.

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