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RTE boss Dee Forbes insists RTÉ amounts to 'fair value' compared to likes of Netflix

Director General to say TV licence fee regime 'completely untenable'

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RTE chief Dee Forbes

RTE chief Dee Forbes

RTE chief Dee Forbes

RTÉ boss Dee Forbes will tomorrow insist that the broadcaster’s output at a cost of 44c-a-day to households represents “fair value” when compared to the costs of subscription services such as Netflix.  

The director general of the cash-strapped organisation is also expected to criticise delays in changes to the TV Licence regime to include people who use the RTÉ Player.

And she will also hail programmes like the Late Late Toy Show, and say it’s “worth fighting for” at an appearance before the Oireachtas Communications Committee.

RTÉ’s financial difficulties see it preparing to cut 200 jobs and impose 15pc salary cuts on some of its best-paid talent as part of efforts to save €60m over three years.

Ms Forbes will tell TDs and Senators that the current €160 TV licence fee is the equivalent of 44c-a-day. She will say the broadcaster offers a “comprehensive” news service and “national moments”, like the GAA finals, on a free-to-air basis.

“Many more moments of entertainment, celebration, revelation and reflection,” are also part of the broadcaster’s output, Ms Forbes statement adds.

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Ryan Tubridy pictured with some of the participants on the set of the Late Late Toy Show 2019 at a preview Friday's Late Late Toy Show, which will be broadcast at 9.30pm on RTE 1...Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Ryan Tubridy pictured with some of the participants on the set of the Late Late Toy Show 2019 at a preview Friday's Late Late Toy Show, which will be broadcast at 9.30pm on RTE 1...Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Ryan Tubridy pictured with some of the participants on the set of the Late Late Toy Show 2019 at a preview Friday's Late Late Toy Show, which will be broadcast at 9.30pm on RTE 1...Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

“I think this is fair value for 44c-a-day per-household; especially in comparison with the subscription costs to other media services; none of which offer anywhere near this level of Irish perspective or output,” she says.

The licence fee works out at around €13-per-month, slightly more than one Netflix price plan option of around €12 per month.

Ms Forbes will also compare RTÉ’s costs to international broadcasters, saying that all RTÉ services are delivered for less than the £381m (€453m) the BBC spends on its secondary channel, BBC2.

She hits out at delays in overhauling the TV licence fee regime - evasion rates of 13pc have led to a loss of €25m a year. She says the remedy proposed by the government is that a five-year contract for licence fee collection would be put out to tender.

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She claims that a collecting agent would likely be contracted from 2021 onwards and this would have the effect of delaying a broader media charge - aimed at incorporating viewers using RTÉ’s online streaming service - for close to seven years.

Ms Forbes brands this as “completely untenable”.

Her statement says “outdated” legislation means 11pc of households don’t pay the TV licence fee but watch programmes online.

“This lag in legislation is resulting in a further loss of €20m in public funding annually,” she adds.

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Hildegarde Naughton. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Hildegarde Naughton. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Hildegarde Naughton. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Committee chairwoman Hildegarde Naughton this evening referred to RTÉ’s cost-cutting plans and said of tomorrow’s meeting: “We welcome this opportunity to discuss these plans and the future of the broadcaster in terms of funding.”


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