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RTÉ's hopes of increase in funding killed off by Brexit, warns Minister for Communications

 

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Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke

Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke

Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke

Funding to RTÉ cannot be increased next year because of the implications of a hard Brexit and the Government’s inability to offer bonus social welfare payments, according to the communications minister.

Richard Bruton said the cash-strapped broadcaster could not benefit from an exchequer bailout next year, because of struggles in the Department of Social Protection to find money to boost welfare payments.

RTÉ’s only source of direct funding from the exchequer comes from licence fee income, which is distributed via the Department of Social Protection.

He said Brexit was also a factor.

“The consequence was that there was very little discretion for the Government in setting aside new moneys,” he told the Dáil.

“The Budget, which was only announced last week, was drawn up against the background of a hard Brexit. 

“It meant there was no across-the-board increase in social welfare rates.

“The Government was not in a position to make a provision for RTÉ to increase the contribution it makes for those who get the free licence fee. 

“That remains the position.  I have no basis for suggesting there is any change.”

 

Fianna Fáil communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley said RTÉ’s finances were in a “perilous state”.

The broadcaster is selling a series of art works it owns to raise money.

Auctioneers Sotheby’s has been commissioned for next month’s sale, which features two works by Dublin-born artist Louis Le Brocquy commissioned in 1966 and 2000. The other works are by William Scott, George Campbell and Tony O’Malley.

It is the latest in a series of efforts by RTÉ bosses to boost revenues at the broadcaster.

Two years ago it sold nine acres of land at its Donnybrook campus to developers for €107m. It was recently reported that further lands in Cork and Dublin could be sold to boost funding, but RTÉ has remained tight-lipped on these reports.

Last month RTÉ director general Dee Forbes told staff the station's financial situation was "not like anything we have seen before".

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