RTE upbeat despite losses of €28m for 2009
PLUNGING advertising revenue and one-off redundancy costs pushed RTE to losses of €28m last year, but the national broadcaster believes it's on track to break even in 2010.
The semi-state's results and outlook are revealed in an annual report that was laid before the Oireachtas last night and chart one of the most turbulent periods in RTE history.
Revenues across the group tumbled by 15pc to €375m, as TV advertising collapsed by €49.7m and radio ad sales plunged €11.3m.
The lower revenue fed directly though to RTE's bottom line, triggering pre-exceptional losses of €16.5m. After booking restructuring costs of €11.3m, RTE closed the year almost €28m in the red.
In a statement accompanying the results, RTE stressed that the losses were "anticipated" with sources last night pointing out that the restructuring costs were once expected to be significantly higher.
RTE's operating costs reduced by €71.1m, or more than 15pc, last year as the company tackled everything from pay rates to headcount to commissioning bills.
The national broadcaster says it's now predicting a "small breakeven level surplus for 2010" as it gets the full-year benefit of those cost cuts for the first time.
The forecast also depends on RTE's 2010 revenue holding largely stable at last year's levels. Sources last night said that while it was still "early days", this year's trading was "matching that budget".
The 2010 year will include no further restructuring costs, the Irish Independent understands, and no new cost-cutting initiatives are expected to be implemented.
The annual report also shows RTE eliminated its sizable pension deficit over the year, transforming the €102.3m deficit on January 1, 2009 to a €2.6m surplus by December 31 after negotiations with staff.
In commentary to the accounts, RTE's outgoing director general, Cathal Goan, played pointed to the contribution of staff member, contractors and other third parties.
The report shows RTE had 2,214 staff on its books at the end of the year, including 332 part-timers, against 2,351 employees, including 358 part-timers, a year earlier.