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RTÉ Announces a Loss of €13m in 2018 Annual Report
26 Jun 2019 : Nathan Griffin
The 2018 report revealed that the broadcaster had recorded a deficit of €13 million, marking the seventh time in 10 years that a deficit has been recorded.

In a release issued by RTÉ, the broadcaster referred to a ‘modest increase’ to revenue in 2018. This included an increase to TV License fee funding of €3 million to €189.1 million, while RTÉ's total revenue increased by €1.5 million to €339.1m.

The RTÉ release, which divulged information pertaining to the broadcasters 2018 Annual Report, saw RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes once more highlight the recommendations of several independent reports to increase public funding.

“TV Licence payers want us to do more and deserve more from us. However, it will not be possible for RTÉ to maintain and enhance what we do and fulfill our remit without action from Government and a solution to the funding of public service media in Ireland,” said Forbes.

“The case for increased public funding for RTÉ has been made in numerous independent reports over the past five years, including the most recent BAI review conducted in 2018 which recommended an immediate increase in annual public funding of €30 million for RTÉ The case for reform of the TV Licence system has also been made in numerous reviews, however, to date; there has been no substantial response from Government.” 

RTÉ was also awarded a funding increase of €8.6 million in Budget 2019, but little progress has been made with TV License reform despite consistent lobbying over recent years. The National Broadcaster, who currently has a bank debt of €50 million, achieved a revenue surplus in 2017 as a result of the sale of its Montrose Campus in Donnybrook.

The cost of special events in 2018 has been highlighted by RTÉ as the reason for the significant deficit. These events included the Papal Visit, Presidential Election and coverage of FIFA World Cup, which amounted to €7.2 million. RTÉ went on to say ‘when combined with depreciation, tax and other charges, (this) results in an overall Net Deficit for the year of €13 million.’

Speaking about the report, Moya Doherty, Chair of the RTÉ Board, said:

“While much of RTÉ's future is in its own hands, ensuring RTÉ is put on a sustainable financial footing should be a shared priority, reflective of how RTÉ was established and is funded.  It is vital that government, financially and politically, underpins the work of RTÉ, through much-needed reforms of the public funding system.

The Board has worked to raise public awareness of these issues and commends the Executive for their ongoing success in difficult circumstances. Despite the uncertain political situation across Europe, the Board remains convinced that a willingness to rethink the public service media landscape will position RTÉ at the forefront of the new public service movement across Europe.”

Other key figures contained within the 2018 Annual Report include the use of €4.4m from the Montrose land sale to revamp the RTÉ News studio, upgrade long-running soap ‘Fair City’ to HD and upgrade new online servers. Spending on sport was €41.7; similar to 2017 figures, while news and current affairs remained the highest costing department, which was allocated €67.6m.

RTÉ’s recorded total costs for 2018 are estimated to be €339.8m.

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