RTE's commercial arm profit triples to €1m as revenue falls
Pre-tax profit at RTE's commercial wing nearly tripled to €983,000 last year, even as revenue at the unit fell over 10pc to €20.7m on the back of a tougher advertising environment that hit the 'RTE guide' and Aertel.
Accounts just filed for RTE Commercial Enterprises at the Companies Office for 2009 also show that RTE's defined benefit superannuation pension scheme, which has been closed to new entrants since 1989, was in surplus to the tune of €2.6m by last January. That compared to a deficit of over €102m having been recorded at the beginning of January 2009.
The accounts also reveal that advertising revenue at the 'RTE Guide' slumped 35pc in 2009 compared to 2008, as weekly sales of the magazine fell 7.7pc to 87,561 in the year to last December.
RTE's Aertel service attracted just over one million daily users on analogue television systems last year, but the accounts note that Aertel's revenue came under "severe pressure", with some key bookmaker clients cutting back on teletext services in Ireland and the UK.
This was partly as a result of the imminent shutdown of analogue teletext services in the UK, said RTE, while bookmakers also diverted more of their attention to online activities.
"While it has proven difficult to attract new clients to the platform, travel still performs well, alongside sport sponsorship," note the accounts. Operating costs at RTE Commercial Enterprises fell to €19.7m last year, from €22.7m in 2008. Just over €6m of last year's figure related to staff wages and salaries. The 115 staff at the company are seconded from RTE.
RTE Commercial Enterprises is also responsible for syndication of the broadcaster's TV shows to other outlets, but 2009 proved to be a "difficult year".
"While some agreements were not renewed, new opportunities were identified," the accounts state. "The GAA video-on-demand rights were further developed with a packaged feed to one of the official hurling championship sponsors."
The broadcaster's online TV catch-up service, RTE Player, was attracting 300,000 unique visitors by December. The most popular programmes watched on the service were the Late Late Show, Late News, the Frontline, Savage Eye and Prime Time.