The government may not be willing to bail RTÉ out anymore amid the broadcaster’s financial woes, according to a report by the Irish Independent this week.
The Independent.ie report alleges that a secret government memo urges RTÉ to explore “all options for efficiency” rather than receiving further state handouts.
RTÉ may not get further government bailouts and must address its cost base by exploring “all options for efficiency”, according to a secret memo given to cabinet ministers last week.https://t.co/bBjsXs91GY
— Hugh O'Connell (@oconnellhugh) January 22, 2023
“RTÉ must continually address its cost base and explore all options for efficiency, cost-effectiveness and extracting maximum value for money,” the memo reportedly states.
It allegedly goes on to issue a warning from the Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, who said that it “cannot be assumed” that the State can give “interim funding on an ongoing basis” to keep RTÉ afloat.
“It is absolutely vital that the work of the technical group be expedited to allow the Government to consider an improved and overhauled TV licence system as soon as possible,” the memo reads.
The news comes shortly after the state broadcaster announced that it is losing over €65m per year under the current TV licence system.
— gript (@griptmedia) January 20, 2023
As it stands RTÉ makes around €200 million per year in licence fee income, and €140 million from commercial activities such as advertising. The broadcaster’s total annual budget amounts to around €340 million.
However, the semi-state organisation has for years complained that widespread non-payment of the fee threatens their very existence.
Speaking to an Oireachtas Joint Committee meeting last week, RTÉ Director of Strategy Rory Coveney – brother of Minister Simon Coveney – said that “There is not a sustainable future for RTÉ, and for many other of our key partners that rely on our capacity to invest, without a reformed public funding model.”
He added that RTÉ was needed to combat “misinformation and disinformation,” saying that the broadcaster desired to “continue to provide a comprehensive news and current affairs service that is fair and accurate and remains highly trusted by the public.”
Each licence fee costs television owners €160 per year, and not paying this sum runs the risk of being fined up to €1,000 and even potentially being jailed.
Between 2013 and 2018, An Post took a total of 64,272 to court for not paying their TV licence fee. Hundreds of people around the same time were jailed for the offence.
411 people jailed last year for not paying their TV licence http://t.co/AyFEb1Aaal
— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) May 1, 2014
It has been widely reported how handsomely RTÉ’s top presenters are compensated annually, with Ryan Tubridy received a whopping €495,000 per year. Ray D’Arcy receives €450,000 per annum, while Joe Duffy receives over €392,000.
Gript previously published a video drawing comparisons between RTÉ presenters’ salaries and other top jobs around the world, which can be viewed below.