RTE to start charging for online content

Noel Curran

Barry Duggan

The director general of RTE has warned that people are soon going to have to pay for online content, as it can no longer be given away for free.

Noel Curran has told journalism students at the University of Limerick that those who consume news and media via their laptop or mobile phones are going to have to prepay for it, as news aggregators are lifting it for free while the original producers bear all the costs.

He revealed that RTE was set to start charging overseas users of their website for some of their online content before the end of the year.

"We won't be doing that in the Irish audience because people in Ireland pay their licence fee and we are not going to be putting up a general paywall, but we are going to be looking at premium content packages in the international market over the next six months," Mr Curran said.

He informed the students that 54 per cent of Irish people still read a daily newspaper.

"That rises to 60 per cent every Sunday. That is a very high figure. It is shrinking and facing huge challenges but that is still a very high figure for newspaper consumption.

"What that shows is that a large proportion of Irish people are still interested in getting Irish news. If we don't have Irish newspapers, who is going to provide Irish news? Not news aggregators, who are just lifting it off other people. Not the very big companies like Google – a brilliant company, but they don't go into that market."

He said newspapers need to bring their readers with them to their online products.

"That is not to underestimate the challenge. Don't write them (newspapers) off," Mr Curran said.