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MEDIA: Press chiefs hit at RTE website

REPRESENTATIVES from the Irish newspaper industry have called for the Communications Minister to intervene in RTE's online services, which they say is unfair competition.

The National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) said that www.rte.ie was preventing newspapers from fully embracing the digital age as it provided free content, but also links up with commercially focused websites.

The NNI said the media had changed radically and RTE still retained a huge advantage via the annual €200m in licence fee income.

The body made a submission to Eamon Ryan's department and is seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister.

"RTE has gone far beyond the proper limits of its public service remit by, for example, providing news on its website and on mobile screens free of charge, and by advertising in areas far removed from this remit," the NNI said.

However, RTE representatives said that the statement from NNI served to distract from the real challenges facing all media organisations.

"RTE.ie was developed through a pragmatic combination of technical innovation, progressive management and careful investment within the RTE Publishing division," said Kevin Dawson, Head of Corporate Communications, RTE.

"Critically, all of this activity has been financed entirely using commercial funding sources without recourse to public subvention of any kind."