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RTÉ studios last night.
RTÉ studios last night.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Widespread RTÉ cuts: 200 jobs to go, digital stations scrapped and top presenters hit with 15% pay cut

The national broadcaster revealed details of the plan this evening.
Nov 6th 2019, 11:26 PM 54,285 171

RTÉ IS TO cut the pay of its top presenters by 15% as part of a major restructuring plan that will seek to reduce costs by €60 million over three years.

The national broadcaster revealed details of the plan this evening which will also see 200 jobs cut next year. 

Lyric FM is to be retained but its production moved from Limerick to Cork and Dublin. 

RTÉ Director-General Dee Forbes said in a statement tonight that the station is in a “fight for the future” of the organisation. 

Forbes said last year that RTÉ was facing “urgent and substantial financial challenges” and that change was needed.  

As part of cost-cutting efforts, RTÉ has pledged to “reduce the fees paid to our top contracted on-air presenters by 15%”, this is in addition to cuts of “over 30% agreed in previous years”. 

RTÉ executives are to take a 10% reduction in pay and the board of RTÉ will “waive its fees”.

As well as a reduction in staff numbers of about 200 next year, other staff-related savings are to be found.

RTÉ says it will work to reduce staff costs by consulting with staff and unions “on a number of initiatives, to include pay freeze, tiered pay reductions, review of benefits, work practice reforms”.

The broadcaster says it will close its Digital Audio Broadcast network as well as RTÉ’s digital radio stations, such as RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Pulse and RTÉ Gold.

RTÉ Aertel is to cease, the RTÉ Guide is to be sold and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra is to be transferred to the National Concert Hall. 

Speculation that Lyric FM’s future was in jeopardy raised fears among listeners in September but RTÉ has now confirmed that the station will be retained. 

“Production of RTÉ lyric fm will move to Cork and Dublin. RTÉ will continue to provide a mid-west news service in Limerick,” the statement said. 

Licence fee

In the statement this evening, RTÉ said that licence fee evasion rates in Ireland are among the highest in Europe and are “costing jobs”.

The broadcaster says that between people who evade their TV licence fee and those who just watch RTÉ programming on the RTÉ player, “over €50 million is lost to public broadcasting every year”.

“Government needs to act to ensure there is a future for public service media in Ireland. I am clear about what role RTÉ should play in Irish life, but I am also clear that we cannot do it unless government fixes the TV licence system We shouldn’t be under any illusions; we are in a fight, a fight to sustain a viable public media in Ireland,” Forbes said this evening. 

The RTÉ Director-General, who spoke on last night’s Late Late Show special, said the death of Gay Byrne caused this plan to be released this week. 

“Our intention was to brief staff in full this week. However, given the sad passing of our colleague Gay Byrne, a decision was taken to postpone until next week. With so much detail now in the public domain, our first priority was to contact all staff immediately with an update on the revised strategy, and plans,” she said. 

In a separate statement, chair of the RTÉ board Moya Doherty said that the TV licence fee system is “broken” and “has not been fit for purpose for a long time”.

“In order to support this process of transformation that we are embarking on and to achieve financial stability, the TV Licence must be reformed. This is the responsibility of government alone,” Doherty said.

“This is one of the most defining moments in the RTÉ’s 93-year history.”

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Rónán Duffy

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