Sunday 26 January 2020

Newstalk makes complaint to EU over RTE ad 'abuse'

Making waves: Pat on his Newstalk show
Making waves: Pat on his Newstalk show

Mark O'Regan

RTE is abusing its position as a national broadcaster by refusing to accept advertising revenue from Newstalk, the station has claimed.

The independent broadcaster has now taken its battle with RTE over alleged misuse of money raised by the licence fee to EU power brokers in Brussels.

A spokesman for the radio station said RTE is using what amounts to a state subsidy to "aggressively'' undercut its competitors in the battle for advertising.

It has now lodged a formal complaint with the EU Commission on the matter.

The complaint says that government funding by way of the licence fee is "illegal" because the state broadcaster is using the money raised in a way that is contrary to EU rules.

It is now seeking urgent intervention from the European competition watchdog on the basis that RTE's commercial activities are artificially distorting the market.

It also alleged that the aid RTE receives in the form of TV licence fees is breaching EU state aid rules. It said if the station operated more efficiently it would maximise its revenues thereby making it less reliant on taxpayer's money.

It also complains about RTE's refusal to broadcast TV advertisements on behalf of Newstalk.

Newstalk argues the station is aggressively undercutting prices for radio advertisements by selling on a below cost basis. An RTE spokesman said it believes it is fully compliant with the Broadcasting Act 2009, and all provisions of the act.

Irish Independent

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