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Cash-strapped RTÉ suffers net deficit of €7.2m in 2019 as chair warns 'current funding model is broken'

Director-general of RTÉ, Dee Forbes, said they worked hard in 2019 to create more original content on the RTÉ Player, diversifying into podcasts and streaming and repurposing their journalism for all platforms.

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RTE headquarters

RTE headquarters

RTE headquarters

RTÉ suffered a net deficit of €7.2m in 2019 according to the year’s annual report released today.

However this was an improvement from 2018, when the net deficit after tax and exceptional items for the year was €13m.

The public broadcaster attributed the lower deficit in part thanks to special events like the Rugby World Cup and local and European elections - which brought in around €4.1m.

They also saw a modest increase to their total revenue to €342.1m, which is about €3m more than in 2018.

However, there was a slight decrease in commercial revenue due to “Brexit uncertainty and changes in media consumption habits."

Director-general of RTÉ, Dee Forbes, said they worked hard in 2019 to create more original content on the RTÉ Player, diversifying into podcasts and streaming and repurposing their journalism for all platforms.

“While there was a lot to be proud of in 2019, it was a year that ended with sadness as we lost our dear friend and colleague, Gay Byrne,” Mr Forbes said.

The RTÉ Player saw a growth of 20pc in viewing in 2019, with RTÉ television having 42 of the top 50 most-watched programmes of the year.

Almost two million radio listeners tuned in to RTÉ weekly, with 51.9pc of the adult population listening to it every week in 2019.

However, chair of the RTÉ board, Moya Doherty, said the year proved to be yet another tough one for the media sector.

“While public-service providers, including RTÉ, made great efforts to continue to adapt and change to retain and remain relevant to audiences, the reality is that we continue to fight for our survival as the need for trusted, independent, quality journalism and programming has never been more important to our societies and democracies,” she said.

“The current funding model is broken, and RTÉ will face a material uncertainty about its capacity to provide the same level of services in the medium term if it is not resolved quickly and definitively”

On a more final note, she added: “In 2019 we came face to face with how a lack of funding reform and legislative planning is threatening a public-service platform that is central to our sense of selves, our communities, our cultures and our global voice.”

In November of 2019, RTÉ announced it would be cutting around 200 jobs in 2020 as part of a plan to cut projected costs by €60m over three years.

However in November last year it indicated it would not be seeking the full 200 job cuts.

In October, it announced an additional 60 employees would be given the option to leave voluntarily with severance packages from January 11. The company also wanted to reduce the salaries of some of their top contracted on-air presenters by 15pc.

RTÉ has come in for criticism for the amount it pays senior broadcasters, with the most recent figures from 2016 showing the highest paid was Ryan Tubridy, receiving €450,000.

These 2016 figures were released in 2018, and RTÉ were originally going to release more updated figures last year - but they later announced in mid-December that it had been delayed until 2021.

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Irish Independent


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