Monday 27 February 2017

RTE restructures commercial arm as Forbes reshapes broadcaster

New director-general Dee Forbes plans to reshape RTE for the future as she reveals that Brexit woes will deepen losses at the station

Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

‘We are doing everything we can to make sure the money we are spending is being spent in the right ways,’ says RTE boss Dee Forbes
‘We are doing everything we can to make sure the money we are spending is being spent in the right ways,’ says RTE boss Dee Forbes

RTE has restructured its commercial division, consolidating its television, radio and digital sales into a single team as it faces up to significant losses for the current year.

Dee Forbes, the new director-general of RTE, said that the organisation has created One RTE, a new merged commericial division, in response to demands from advertisers. Until recent days, RTE's television, radio and digital commercial divisions had operated separately.

"I think the power of One RTE is really strong," Forbes told the Sunday Independent. "We are doing it in the commercial area because it makes sense for the advertisers and the agencies."

Forbes said that 2016 was "without a doubt" proving more difficult than had been anticipated, due in large part to the impact of Brexit on London advertisers.

"We were always going to have a deficit due to 1916, the Olympics and so on and that has been added to by the commercial pressures.

"I think the commercial area is going to continue to be volatile given that the UK will trigger article 50 in March."

She said costs across the organisation are under scrutiny. "Every manager here is being very prudent around the cost base. We are doing everything we can to make sure the money we are spending is being spent in the right ways," said Forbes.

In her first interview since taking over the role in August, Forbes said that, like other media organisations, RTE would have to "re-engineer and re-think the shape of the organisation and delivery of output". RTE would be a very different organisation in five years' time, she added.

"We do need to adapt and really get the organisation ready for this world we are now in.

"What the financials look like? All to be determined. But it's got to be a national broadcaster that is equipped to face the future. I do think it is a big job ahead to figure it all out."

Forbes is also focusing on content and scheduling across RTE television and radio.

"We have to put the audience at the centre of everything we do. An early observation for me that RTE is so strong on current affairs, and it needs to be and should be, that I think to the general public they see us only through that lens.

"Our remit at RTE is very wide. We have to cover everything from culture to arts and life in general, we are a reflection on modern Ireland

"That is something we are looking at, how can we engage audiences more on those areas."

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