Friday 19 January 2018

RTE considers charging its licence-payers for online services


RTE director general Noel Curran. Photo: Collins
RTE director general Noel Curran. Photo: Collins

Peter Flanagan

RTE could charge licence-fee payers for access to certain parts of its online operations, it has been revealed.

The public service broadcaster is looking at ways to increase its revenue from its online and digital business, and while it is looking initially at charging overseas users for access to certain areas of its offerings, it has not ruled out billing domestic users as well.

While RTE remains committed to providing free access to its "core" offerings on TV, radio and online, the semi-state is said to be in the process of defining what is "core" and what isn't.

Any move to charge domestic users for access would be some way away, however, with the focus for now on the international market.

Addressing an IBEC conference yesterday, director general Noel Curran said the broadcaster needed to increase its revenue from its online operation and was looking at all possibilities to raise revenue.

"Free and open access to core RTE content will remain a key part of our digital strategy in the coming years but just as other public institutions run specific exhibitions and events for which customers pay, either on entry or by subscription, so too RTE is considering developing new IP-based premium, live and video-on-demand services for different audiences, particularly international audiences," he said.

"We believe that a movement by the largest domestically-owned content producer and online operation in Ireland into the premium space, however limited initially, can only help build recognition from the public that online content needs to be financially supported.

"We also believe that entering this space will enhance opportunities not just for ourselves but for others as well," he added.

Charging for international access will be used to help increase the proportion of revenue RTE earns from its online business. Last year, online accounted for only 2.5pc of the broadcaster's turnover. Mr Curran wants that up to 15pc by 2015.

Among other changes being proposed by Mr Curran is a greater integration of radio, TV and digital. While there is some crossover in staff currently, Mr Curran said he wanted "closer integration between online generators and other output areas".

In practice, this is likely to see more contributions to the RTE website and digital platforms from some of the well known personalities on television and radio.

Irish Independent

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