Thursday 17 October 2019

Virgin Media criticises BAI over RTÉ funding

Virgin Media Ireland CEO Tony Hanway
Virgin Media Ireland CEO Tony Hanway
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Virgin Media clashed with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) over the regulator's decision to recommend extra funding of €30m to RTÉ.

Documents released to the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information Act show Virgin Media Ireland CEO Tony Hanway criticised the BAI, writing in a letter that the authority "is not an economic regulator".

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"To put this in context, €30m represents a very considerable portion of Virgin Media Television's total operating budget," he wrote.

He claimed the extra revenue for RTÉ "without conditions attached will further subvent existing efficiency" and would be used to compete commercially in the areas of sport and entertainment. He raised concerns about RTÉ's deficits and claimed "there is a need for a root-and-branch examination of the cost base, structure and purpose of RTÉ".

However, the BAI replied by saying the recommendation "was made subject to a number of conditions attached". "The BAI requires RTÉ to address the questions of deficits and does not agree with your contention that nothing will be done on this matter," wrote chief executive Michael O'Keeffe.

He said funding received by RTÉ could not be used to compete unfairly with rivals.

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