Thursday 18 April 2019

RTE won't reveal how much it earns from phone-ins and texts

Ryan Tubridy presents RTE's The Late Late Show
Ryan Tubridy presents RTE's The Late Late Show

Sean O'Grady

RTE has refused to reveal its earnings through phone voting on shows such as Dancing With The Stars, The Voice Of Ireland and The Late Late Show.

Viewers have to text or phone in their votes on Dancing With The Stars and the axed Voice Of Ireland, while The Late Late Show has phone-in competitions in which the audience is required to pay a small fee to be in with a chance of winning.

However, the broadcaster refused a request made under the Freedom of Information Act by the Herald, saying the cash made is "commercially sensitive" information.

A statement from the station said the reason was, according to the Act, due to a public body being allowed to withhold information "containing financial, commercial or other information, the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in a material financial loss to the person to whom the information relates".

The station pointed out that its privately-owned competitors, such as TV3, are not required to release such information and if they were to do the same it could give the likes of Ballymount an unfair advantage.

"Their release would be unfair to RTE and would put RTE's competitors at an unfair commercial advantage vis-a-vis RTE," it said.

"This is because their release would allow RTE's competitors to use the information contained in the records to their advantage when entering into commercial negotiations in respect of similar services and programming."

The statement went on to say that under the Broadcasting Act 2009, RTE has a responsibility to "exploit commercial opportunities so as to reduce the net cost of providing its public service".

It also claimed that revealing the figures would be "commercially sensitive to the contractual agreements between RTE and the relevant third-party independent production companies and format distributors" who have worked on shows such as Dancing With The Stars and The Voice Of Ireland, both of which are produced by outside company Shinawil.

Dancing With The Stars and The Late Late Show are two of Montrose's most popular programmes, while The Voice Of Ireland also attracted a large audience during its five-series run.

The first episode of Dancing With The Stars had an average audience of 640,000 and maintained an audience of more than half a million throughout its run.

The Late Late Show also regularly draws 500,000 viewers on Friday nights, with special episodes like the Valentine's Day special reaching more than 600,000 and The Late Late Toy Show hitting well over one million viewers.

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