Friday 15 November 2019

Broadcasting gold: RTÉ profit soars with sales around world

RTÉ's gritty drama ‘Taken Down’
RTÉ's gritty drama ‘Taken Down’

Gordon Deegan

From 'Hardy Bucks' to 'Operation Transformation' and 'The Clinic', sales of RTÉ shows to international audiences contributed to a 22pc jump in its pre-tax profits.

New accounts filed by RTÉ Commercial Enterprises DAC - the commercial arm - that the slimmed-down division recorded the increase in pre-tax profits to €8.89m.

This was in spite of revenues decreasing by 9pc from €20.26m to €18.47m.

The commercial division generates revenues from overseas sales of shows, sponsorship and sales of the 'RTÉ Guide' and the profits it delivered last year were not enough to prevent the national broadcaster recording an overall loss of €13m for 2018.

The station has cited the cost of covering special events as a major factor in the loss.

Director general of RTÉ Dee Forbes said last month that RTÉ's financial situation "is unlike anything it has seen before" and "it won't be possible to continue as they are", with staff bracing themselves for the completion of a review into RTÉ's operations.

Small town, big world: ‘Hardy Bucks’ has sold well to foreign broadcasters
Small town, big world: ‘Hardy Bucks’ has sold well to foreign broadcasters

According to the directors' report for the commercial arm, overall revenues and costs reduced last year primarily due to the transfer of GAAGO activities into a separately established joint venture company. The directors state TV programmes had a strong performance with growth in drama content sales.

The report states it was a very successful year for RTÉ drama and comedy.

'Love/Hate' writer Stuart Carolan's newest series 'Taken Down' secured a significant distribution deal and a broadcast sale to Arte France and Germany.

The report states 'Hardy Bucks' was licensed to Netflix worldwide while 'The Clinic' - which helped launch the acting careers of Amy Huberman and Chris O'Dowd - was re-licensed to Acorn TV USA and UK.

The directors state the division's lifestyle division continues to deliver with Dermot Bannon's 'Room To Improve' and Donal Skehan's 'Donal's Meals in Minutes' securing international sales across the UK, Europe and Australia as well as 'First Dates' and back catalogue 'Rachel Allen'.

And Kathryn Thomas-presented 'Operation Transformation' was sold to SC4 in Wales.

The directors add that in line with the press sector, the 'RTÉ Guide' had a challenging year with a small decline year on year in revenues from advertising and circulation partly compensated by a cover price increase.

The directors state the pre-tax profits for the year was significantly higher than the previous year as a moderate decrease in revenues was more than compensated for by a much larger reduction in costs.

Numbers employed by the firm last year reduced from 35 to 23 and staff costs reduced from €2.5m to €1.73m.

The accounts disclose that the GAAGO joint venture recorded revenues of €1.33m last year and recorded profits of €118,000. The service has continued to go from strength to strength with strong year on year growth in annual subscribers, according to the directors.


Offering an insight into RTÉ's commercial operation, the accounts show that the firm's income from advertising and sponsorship reduced from €874,000 to €710,000.

The company's revenues from "content, merchandising and related sales" reduced from €13.3m to €12.17m while facilities income reduced from €2.6m to €2.3m.

The company's circulation income reduced from €3.3m to €3.19m.

On the firm's costs, they show that the print run for the 'RTÉ Guide' totalled €1.29m for the year.

The directors state the 'RTÉ Guide' continues to be the country's best selling magazine. They point out that the magazine's Christmas edition continues to be a publishing phenomenon with sales of 300,000.

Irish Independent

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