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RTÉ to get extra €10m after Government announces public service broadcasting Commission

“This is Government meeting RTÉ halfway,” Communications Minister Richard Bruton said.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

RTÉ WILL RECEIVE an additional €10 million in funding per year after the Government announced the establishment of a Commission on the Future of Public Service Broadcasting today. 

The Commission is set to review the broadcaster’s current approach and will make recommendations to the Government on “setting a new strategic direction for public broadcasting provided at national, regional and local level,” a statement from the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment said. 

Providing the additional funding – €10 million per year for five years – will coincide with new reporting requirements and monthly meetings between RTÉ and the Department, it said today. 

Last month, news broke that RTÉ was due to make a series of major cuts in order to deal with its dire financial situation.

As part of a major restructuring plan, it will cut the pay of its top presenters by 15%, cut 200 jobs (through voluntary redundancies), move production of Lyric FM from Limerick to Cork and Dublin and reduce RTÉ executives’ pay by 10%.

The broadcaster has been trying to return to profit for years now, selling off land at its Montrose site in Donnybrook, and more recently putting acclaimed pieces of art up for auction.

RTÉ submitted a revised strategy to the Government with €9 million of the additional five-year annual funding earmarked so it can implement its new plan. 

Earlier today, RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes renewed her appeal for TV licence reforms when she appeared before a panel of TDs and senators in Leinster House. 

Forbes has spoken about RTÉ’s controversial cost-cutting measures and argued the case for reforming the €160 annual licence fee.

Forbes also criticised the 13% of households which are evading the licence fee and argue that the current rate of 44c per household per day is not an unreasonable amount. 

The Commission which was announced today will be tasked with:

  • Deciding how public service broadcasting aims will be delivered over the next 10 years. 
  • How it should contribute to supporting Ireland’s cultural and creative sectors. 
  • Examine how work can be funded in a sustainable way, allowing for security of funding and delivering value for money. 
  • Make recommendations on RTÉ’s role, financing and structure.

Speaking today, Communications Minister Richard Bruton said:

“RTÉ must change to reposition itself. However, it is also important that a careful assessment take place of what are the models and funding mechanisms that can best support the continuing important public service goals.

“This is Government meeting RTÉ halfway on the financial challenges they face,” Bruton said. 

Bruton said “revised estimates” for the additional funding for RTÉ will be published shortly and that the Commission will report back to Government ahead of Budget 2021. 

The Department also said today that RTÉ should not sell off part of its land until the Commission has completed its work. 

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Membership of the Commission will be decided shortly. 

With reporting by Christina Finn

 

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