Tuesday 20 February 2018

RTE spent €273,560 covering president's visit to UK

Queen Elizabeth ll and President Michael D Higgins at Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth ll and President Michael D Higgins at Windsor Castle

Joanna Kiernan and Luke Byrne

RTE spent a total of €273,560 to cover the state visit of President Michael D Higgins to Britain in April this year.

The spending is the equivalent of €39,080 a day for the period of the trip between April 6 and 12, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

A total of 48 staff members were sent by the national broadcaster from Dublin to cover Mr Higgins's historic trip to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

RTE originally estimated that the cost to its news and current affairs division for the trip was around €120,000.

But it has emerged that the total cost for news and current affairs reached €175,481 – the cost incurred by the television division was €88,000 and radio division was €12,079.

Travel costs for the trip were €37,537. Accommodation and subsistence reached €33,339.

But by far the greatest expense was hiring equipment and paying the costs associated with outside broadcasts. This reached €202,683, in total.


RTE said that a "core team of 30 people" travelled to provide coverage across television, radio online and mobile – in Irish and English. And 18 "supplementary staff" travelled at various different periods of two days or less.

"The widespread public interest in the historic state visit by the President to the UK was reflected in the significant audiences turning to RTE for coverage and analysis of the occasion," RTE said.

"RTE offered audiences, both at home and abroad, a range of special programmes in addition to detailed news coverage of the first State visit by an Irish head of state to the UK."

According to RTE, more than 1.3m people tuned in to the range of television programmes broadcast during the week.

RTE said that there was a "significant" unilateral satellite cost of around €30,000 added to the news and current affairs figure, due to increased space capacity required to facilitate HD live coverage of the events. And it said a substantial amount of the costs to RTE's news and current affairs department related to hiring staff and equipment for outside broadcasting on television and radio of live events.

It pooled its resources with British broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Sky. RTE has also pointed out that the pooled coverage was made available for free to other Irish media outlets such as the Irish Independent, Irish Times and Newstalk.

Irish Independent

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