Wednesday 28 September 2016

RTÉ's commercial arm making more than during boom

Paul O'Donoghue

Published 18/09/2015 | 02:30

Tom Vaughan Lawlor as Nidge in Love/Hate
Tom Vaughan Lawlor as Nidge in Love/Hate

RTÉ Commercial Enterprises, the business arm of the national broadcaster, is trading significantly better than it did during the boom and has almost doubled its profits since 2006.

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That is according to new accounts just filed by the company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of RTÉ.

Although RTÉ released financial information in its annual report, which was published last week, the accounts give more detail as to the performance of the broadcaster's commercial operations.

The main activities of the company include the production of the RTÉ Guide, operating the RTÉ player and managing programme merchandising such as DVD sales of RTÉ shows including crime drama Love/Hate.

The accounts show RTÉ Commercial made a profit of €4.5m last year, up from €4.4m in 2013.

This is a substantial increase on the full-year profit of €2.6m recorded in 2006, and is almost four times higher than the €1.2m profit made in 2007.

The increased profitability comes despite the fact that revenue has been largely flat over the past decade or so. RTÉ Commercial's turnover of €23.7m last year compares with sales of €23.5m in 2007 and €22.4m in 2006.

The reduction mainly comes due to a trimming of operating costs, which declined from €22m in 2007 to €19.1m in 2014.

Seventy people worked for the company during the year, the same number as in 2013, while staff costs rose slightly, increasing from €5.1m to just over €5.4m.

RTÉ revealed last week that the organisation made a modest surplus of €200,000 last year, compared with a profit of €700,000 in 2013. RTÉ had recorded a deficit in the four years prior to 2013.

Despite effectively breaking even, the broadcaster raised the issue of licence fee evasion in its annual report, saying that the current method of collection is "not fit for purpose".

Commercial sales at the station as a whole were about €150m, up by €4.4m on the previous year.

However, its share of licence fee revenue was €178.6m, down €3.8m, which effectively cancelled out the gains made on the commercial side of the operation.

The annual report noted that evasion levels in Ireland "are over three times higher than those experienced in the UK and Germany", and added that collection costs are more than double compared with other European counterparts.

It is estimated that 15pc of those liable for the fee do not pay it, resulting in a loss of about €30m to the media sector.

Irish Independent

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