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Tuesday 16 September 2014

RTE spent €120,000 on coverage of President's visit to Britain

Published 01/05/2014 | 16:48

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President Michael D Higgins with wife Sabina at Windsor Castle. Photo: PA
President Michael D Higgins with wife Sabina at Windsor Castle. Photo: PA

RTE's head of news and current affairs Kevin Bakhurst has revealed that their coverage of President Michael D Higgins official visit to Britain cost the broadcaster €120,000.

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However while the headline figure looks "high" he said that when you know the component parts it seems "less surprising."

Mr Bakhurst said he was "very proud" of the coverage provided by the State broadcaster and revealed that in a subsequent survey, "an extraordinary 99pc" of those polled rated RTE's coverage as "good" or "very good", adding that he has not seen these types of figures before.

Mr Bakhurst was speaking at a media seminar at the Four Courts today, entitled Media Matters, at which the Chief Justice The Honourable Mrs Justice Susan Denham gave the keynote speech.

Mr Bakhurst said the President's visit to the UK had barely finished when RTE received FOI requests seeking the cost of the coverage.

 He explained that RTE had joined the pool with the BBC, Sky and ITV News, ensuring  high quality video content of the whole visit.

"It is quite an efficient way of covering major stories in multiple locations," he commented.

 He revealed the cost of hiring a single live outside broadcast satellite van for a day is around €3,000 - €4,000.

While to hire in a freelance camera crew for a day stands at around €500.

"The headline figure for news and current affairs coverage for the five day visit is likely to be in the region of €120,000."

" As I say – the headline figure may look high but when you know the component parts it seems less surprising," Mr Bakhurst said.

With resources and the numbers of people more stretched than ever before – he said expectations, competition and scrutiny were "rightly"  higher than ever.

Meanwhile the Chief Justice Susan Denham told the seminar that the role of media was vital in a functioning democracy.

"The people of Ireland are in debt to the media for the delivery of important information from the courts - not just as news or as a distraction or maybe even at times entertainment - but as a source if facts needed to energise their analysis of the society they live and work in, about the issues they discuss and sometimes vote on; about the systems they elect - and the bureaucracies for which they pay."

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