Saturday 17 February 2018

RTE 'should get more public money'

Bob Collins: chairman of BAI
Bob Collins: chairman of BAI
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

RTE should receive an increase in public funding – but only on condition that it imposes further "stringent" cutbacks, the broadcasting watchdog has said.

Bob Collins, chairperson of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), said any additional funding should be granted on condition that RTE outlines in advance what the money will be spent on.

He told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications: "The interest of Irish democracy requires that there is a stronger level of domestic content than is available at the moment.

"For that reason we identified the need, subject to certain conditions, for additional funding to be made available to RTE."

However he said the recommendation of a funding increase was conditional on a number of factors, including slashing RTE's cost base as "further reductions are possible".

RTE has already cut its cost base by over €100m since 2008, with staff levels down by a fifth and pay cuts implemented.

In August, it reported a €65.2m deficit for 2012, mainly due to a €46m restructuring charge. It has indicated that it should break even this year.

Mr Collins suggested that Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte should "determine a point" at which RTE's public funding would be matched with a reduction in its commercial revenue streams so that "more are available to independent broadcasters."

Irish Independent

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