Sunday 4 December 2016

The ultimate irony as fierce critic of RTE's licence fee is now the man collecting it

Published 23/09/2016 | 02:30

David McRedmond, former ceo of TV3
David McRedmond, former ceo of TV3

OF all the twists and turns in the Irish media landscape in recent months, the prospect of RTE relying on the former boss of rival commercial broadcaster TV3 to collect its licence fee is possibly the most sublime.

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Yesterday An Post announced that David McRedmond, former chief executive of TV3, will become the State-owned postal company's ceo.

As the outspoken boss of TV3, Mr McRedmond challenged RTE's funding model and once said that RTE had been allowed to abuse its licence fee revenue to unfairly subsidise its loss-making television sector.

Now he's in charge of collecting it.

The collection of RTE's licence fee is perhaps not the top priority for Mr McRedmond, himself a recent, high profile candidate for the role of Director General of RTE.

And he will need to marshal all the insights he has gained into the disruptive forces that are impacting the media, telecoms and retail sectors - sectors where he has held senior executive roles at home and abroad - to steer An Post into the digital age.

An Post has recently warned that its ability to provide a national postal service is under threat because of the company's worsening financial situation, a position aggravated by the progressive substitution of conventional letter mail by electronic forms of communication.

In layman's term, email is killing the postal star which has suffered a greater than predicted decline in the number of mail items posted - mail volumes are down 35pc since the peak of 2007.

To its credit, An Post, which is legally obliged to provide a universal postal service -the Universal Service Obligation (USO) cost it €32.3m last year - has worked hard to cross-subsidise losses.

It has also undertaken an aggressive cost-cutting programme to help improve efficiencies, but has been hit by a recent Labour Court award which gave staff a 2.5pc pay rise.

Given Mr McRedmond's experience, the appointment is inspired. And he will have plenty of scope over the next seven years to stamp his mark on the public sector.

Analysis

Irish Independent

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