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annual report RTÉ saved €8m during Covid but missed targets because it could make fewer programmes

The public broadcaster’s annual report published on Thursday shows its income fell by €11m last year to €331m, following a modest increase year-on-year in 2019

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Adam King from Cork (age 6) pictured with Ryan Tubridy at The Late Late Toy Show 2020. Photo: Andres Poveda

Adam King from Cork (age 6) pictured with Ryan Tubridy at The Late Late Toy Show 2020. Photo: Andres Poveda

Adam King from Cork (age 6) pictured with Ryan Tubridy at The Late Late Toy Show 2020. Photo: Andres Poveda

RTÉ ended 2020 with a rare surplus, of €8m, despite declining advertising income, largely because it could make fewer programmes during Covid. 

The public broadcaster’s annual report published on Thursday shows its income fell by €11m last year to €331m, following a modest increase year-on-year in 2019.

The decline reflected a general drop in advertising markets during the pandemic. The fall was significantly less than the 25pc to 35pc hit feared early last year when management introduced temporary cost cutting measures including use of the government’s Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to meet payroll costs, cutting executive pay by 10pc and the pay of top talent by 15pc.

In fact with travel and sport cancelled for much of the year RTÉ’s operating costs fell even more sharply than its income in 2020, even before so called Special Events such as covering national commemorations in recent years, outgoings were down €28.5m to €305.2m.

That left a surplus of €7.9m as the final financial outcome for the year, a huge swing from the €7.2m loss a year earlier.

The latest annual report shows broadcaster had an increased 1,866 of employees in 2020, including a small number of part timers.

The headcount increase of around 30 people in the year was mainly due contractors and agency staff being regularised as employees and a return of individuals from unpaid leave, the broadcaster said.

RTÉ has been looking to reduce staff numbers as part of a longer term commitment to reduce costs in line with its income.

The report also provides an update on a number of non financial targets RTÉ had set for last year, under the Revised Strategy 2020–2024 previously presented to the Government.

These included measuring the public's access to RTÉ services including news, which is high, and measuring public perception that RTÉ provides high quality content and a mix of services which was again achieved.

RTÉ fell short on a number of measures. It missed a target to have 75pc of the public believe its output reflects the diversity of the country's population and fell dramatically short when it comes to developing new faces and new voices, where almost half of the public thinks RTÉ falls down.

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