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Fears of huge jobs cull by cash-strapped RTE

RTE staff are bracing themselves for large-scale redundancies as the cash-strapped station introduces a fresh round of cutbacks.

Hundreds of jobs may now be shed by Montrose bosses as the station enters its toughest phase since its formation.

A multi-million euro cost-cutting plan is currently being devised with hundreds of jobs at risk of being axed.

It has emerged that RTE management wrote to staff last week, warning them of significant "financial challenges" ahead.

In a circular to staff, RTE director general Noel Curran said the station would be announcing details of a major review of all its overheads.

Station sources have revealed that the news has left staff "extremely worried" that RTE will introduce a large scale redundancy scheme. It is understood that all areas of spending are going under a microscope, with full programmes on the chopping board.

RTE will shortly finalise a small-scale redundancy scheme which will see 250 employees leave the station.

However management are expected to consider shedding hundreds more as the station grapples with a €17m deficit.

Full television and radio programmes may be axed with finance bosses looking at all areas for potential savings.

The station may also look to axe a number of its regional offices such as its Limerick-based Lyric FM headquarters.

The news of the cutbacks at RTE comes amid a tumultuous few weeks for Montrose chiefs.

RTE star Miriam O'Callaghan admitted to the Herald last week that morale at the station had been "crushed" by the recent Tweetgate fiasco and the Fr Kevin Reynolds libel case.

And in an email to staff, Mr Curran said that recent criticism surrounding was fair.

He said that when the state broadcaster made "serious mistakes", it should expect to be criticised. And he told staff that they needed to be "tough and honest with ourselves if we are to come through this difficult period stronger".

The Herald reported last week that both Mr Curran and RTE chairman Tom Savage will be hauled in front of an Oireachtas committee "within weeks" where they will face a grilling from TDs.

The pair will be asked how its production staff allowed a tweet from a fake Sinn Fein account to be read out live on air.

And TDs will also quiz RTE bosses on its handling of audience member-based programmes after Monaghan businessman Pat McGuirk complained about his dealings with The Frontline.