Yet it finds money for Fair City and for the odd contemporary drama – most recently Pure Mule, Raw and Love/Hate, all of them impressive but none of them ever likely to end up in a 10 Best list.
So how come Denmark, a country with a comparable population and resources, can come up with The Killing and with the political drama, Borgen, both of which were major successes when screened on BBC4?
Could the problem have something to do with talent and/or with the encouragement of such talent?
The bleak truth is that, despite this country's deserved international reputation for drama, RTÉ's own track record in this area is pretty abysmal, though even more abysmal has been its failure to nurture comedy.
What passes as such on RTÉ Two is dire, yet somehow Channel 4 can welcome two Irish scriptwriters and an entire Irish cast for the making of Father Ted, while also finding a showcase for Dylan Moran in Black Books and for Graham Linehan and Chris O'Dowd in The IT Crowd.
And just this year, it was the frequently derided Sky One which funded O'Dowd's charming and funny Moone Boy (pictured).
Meanwhile, RTÉ comes up with The Fear and Katherine Lynch's Big Fat Breakfast Show to wipe the smile off all our faces.