3 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
RTE Appeal To Government for Fee Increase
23 May 2002 :
Following RTE's End of Year Report for 2001, revealing an increased deficit of €70.9m, Paddy Wright, RTE Chairman, has appealed to the government for a substantial increase of €45 in the licence fee, or, he claims, the state broadcaster will face "death by a thousand cuts".

According to the end of year report, the deficit rose from €14.2 million the previous year to €70.9 million and overall revenues fell by €10 million to €258 million due to the continued slump in the advertising market. The broadcaster's total expenditure for the year was €329 million.

"If we don't get an increase in the licence fee it will be the death-knell for RTÉ. We will die and it will be death by a thousand cuts," he said. "We will either close or change completely. I think RTÉ as we know it will die over the period of a couple of years. At this moment in time we have to get the backing of the government."

The national broadcaster had petitioned the Government last year for an increase in the fee, with the result that the Minister for Arts, Sile deValera increased the fee from €88.89 to €107, substantially less than the increase of €63 requested by RTE. In light of the results for 2001, the RTE chairman is reverting to petitioning for the original increase, which would raise the licence fee to €152, and index-link the increase to inflation. He has said that this increase, which would generate €45 million would be the minimum required to turn the company around, and rein in the escalating debts (€40 million in two years).

The corporation currently has 450 personnel, and has given redundancy packages to 650 (€21.5 million). Advertising revenue to CEL has decreased by 10%€94 million. Director-General Bob Collins said: "The performance last year became progressively worse than we were expecting because of the performance of advertising. It is clear that the position was becoming more and more difficult, and that there was an acceleration in the difficulty."

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