Tuesday 21 August 2018

TV3 objects to RTE plan to expand its television services

Commercial broadcaster protests and urges broadcaster to tackle losses

'A spokesman for RTE said that it was seeking ministerial permission to make new services available.' Stock photo
'A spokesman for RTE said that it was seeking ministerial permission to make new services available.' Stock photo
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Commercial broadcaster TV3 has strongly objected to plans by RTE to extend its television services, arguing that the broadcaster should tackle its ongoing losses before adding new services.

RTE made a formal submission for the services to the Department of Communications on June 25, with the department seeking stakeholder views in recent weeks.

As part of RTE's new five-year strategy, it proposes new services including an RTE 2 +1 channel - which airs the main channel an hour later - while extending the hours of its RTE 1 +1 station, which currently airs after 7pm each day.

TV3 - which will soon be rebranded as Virgin - is strongly objecting to the plan.

A spokeswoman for the TV3 Group said: "TV3 has made its position clear to the department as part of their consultation process.

"We have consistently called for RTE's long-running inefficiencies and successive deficits to be addressed in advance of any new funding or approval of new services.

"As a priority, RTE should be called to account for their existing cost base and the extensive services which they already operate at a deficit, in advance of taking on any additional commitments."

A spokesman for RTE said that it was seeking ministerial permission to make new services available. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) will carry out its sectoral impact assessment, he added.

RTE recorded a loss of just under €20m in 2016 and a loss of €6.4m in 2017, with director general Dee Forbes admitting that losses were again expected for the current year. Over those three years, RTE had total revenues of around €1bn, in commercial revenue and licence fee income.

The World Cup gave RTE a significant boost in audience numbers, but industry sources said that commercial impacts - the industry measure for the number of adverts seen by consumers - showed little growth for the broadcaster. Some critics in the industry told the Sunday Independent that they believe RTE could have made more commercial gain from the event as some ad breaks were not filled to capacity.

However, a spokesman for RTE said: "RTE's World Cup audiences were exceptional. RTE significantly outperformed the market in June, selling the World Cup at a premium rate, and as a special. As such, only advertisers who had bought packages or spots would have featured in these breaks, meaning the breaks may not all have been filled to capacity."

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