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RTÉ 2021 revenue increased €13 million, marking surplus for second year in a row

The state broadcaster pulled in a surplus of €2.4 million.

RTÉ crime drama Kin
RTÉ crime drama Kin

RTÉ HAS REVEALED in its 2021 annual report that it had a revenue of  €344.4 million last year, €13 million more than in 2020 despite a slight decrease in TV licence fees.

The state broadcaster received €500,000 less in licence fees than 2020′s €196.6 million but this was more than made up for by commercial revenue increasing by €13.8 million to €148.3 million.

RTÉ recorded a net surplus after tax of €2.4 million compared to 2020′s surplus of €7.9 million.

Both years may have been aided by savings in the costs of producing shows and covering events that were cancelled during the pandemic.

Operating costs increased from 2020, as well as the cost of special events including Euro 2020, the Olympics and World Cup qualifiers which amounted to €15.8 million.

In 2019 RTÉ reported a net deficit €7.2 million, and a 2018 deficit of €13 million “due to Brexit uncertainty and changes in media consumption habits.”

Earlier this month the government committed to overhauling the TV licence system following recommendations from the Future of Media Commission which was established to examine funding models and challenges for the media sector.

The Commissions’ report, which was completed last year but not released publicly until this month, recommended replacing licence fee funding for RTÉ with a taxpayer-based model.

A survey by the commission found that only 29%  of people believed that a licence fee of €160 was good value for money, however the government will not adopt the measure entirely.

The new system will be more equitable, relevant and sustainable but will “minimise the risk of actual or perceived political interference in media independence,” the government stated.

49 of the commission’s 50 recommendations would be adopted, Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan said, but there were concerns that “you would have a Government in the future saying we’ll cut the budget if we don’t like the story, and that wouldn’t be good for Irish media or for Irish democracy”.

In the 2021 annual report Director-General of the RTÉ, Dee Forbes, said: “The decision by Government last week to align the obligation to pay the TV Licence with how people consume media today is critical to ensure the sustainability of the system into the future.

“RTÉ will continue to do everything in its power to deliver a national public service media to be proud; but implementing essential Licence Fee reform is vital to address persistent financial instability.”

 Other highlights of the report include that RTÉ was home to 44 of the 50 most-watched TV programmes in Ireland.

During the most severe wave of Covid-19 the RTÉ Six One News on the 5 January was the most-watched news programme of the year on any channel.

The Late Late Toy Show in 2021 was again the most-watched programme on television with over 1.7 million viewers and it raised €6.6 million for charity.

The second most-watched programme in Ireland for the year was the GAA All-Ireland Football Final between Tyrone and Mayo on RTÉ2 with 944,600 viewers.

Drama series, Kin attracted 2.47 million streams on RTÉ Player, while Episode 1 was the most streamed single piece of content with 515,600 streams. 

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