24 June 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Government announce funding of €56 million for RTÉ
14 Nov 2023 : News Desk
RTÉ Director-General Kevin Bakhurst
Following the unveiling of RTÉ Director-General Kevin Bakhurst’s new Strategic Vision for RTÉ, the Government has announced €56 million in funding for RTÉ. The new Strategic Vision is expected to involve reducing RTÉ’s workforce by 20%.

Minister Catherine Martin has announced €56 million in funding for RTÉ. This consists of €16 million in interim funding, followed by €40 million paid in two instalments next year. This news follows RTÉ Director General (DG) Kevin Bakhurst’s unveiling of the organisation’s new Strategic Vision, an outline for the future of the organisation following this year’s scandal. 

Earlier this year it was discovered that the national broadcaster had paid Late Late Show presenter Ryan Tubridy €345,000 more than it had declared to the public and Oireachtas over several years. As minister Catherine Martin described it when speaking to cabinet colleagues about today’s funding decision, RTÉ’s Strategic Vision “demonstrates a renewed commitment to public service broadcasting, and addresses key areas such as governance reforms and cost efficiencies.” The Minister added “This is vital as RTÉ seeks to rebuild the trust and confidence of the Irish public.”

The initial funding of €16m, recommended by the Future of Media Commission and recently confirmed by NewERA, will be provided to RTÉ in the coming weeks.  

An initial tranche of the €40m funding will be provided in Q1 2024 after the Expert Advisory Committees reports, set up by the Government, are published. A further instalment will be made in the second half of the year providing satisfactory progress is being made by RTÉ on governance and reforms.

“This decision on funding is necessary to ensure in the short term the continued operations of RTÉ,” said Minister Martin in regards to RTÉ’s interim funding. “However, a long-term reform of the public funding model is critical to ensure the national broadcaster is on a sustainable footing, and to ensure good quality public service broadcasting into the future.”

She added: “Until a new long-term funding model is in place, it is critically important that people pay the TV Licence fee. It is not only required by law, it underpins vibrant public service content which is of critical importance to our democracy and society.”

Since the controversy surrounding broadcaster Ryan Tubridy began in July, there has been a sharp fall-off in licence fee payments. The Government is forecasting that a drop in licence fee income will cost RTÉ €21m in revenue this year, and potentially €40m next year if this trend continues.

Consequently, RTÉ are looking at reducing their workforce by up to 400 by 2028, as part of DG Bakhurst’s Strategic Vision. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that he understands that the level of redundancies will be a shock for RTÉ employees, and added that this plan was not proposed by the Government and RTÉ is autonomous in its decisions.

The first 10% of the staff reductions are expected to be achieved quickly and it is estimated that a voluntary redundancy scheme would cost around €40m. DG Bakhurst has previously stated there are no plans for compulsory redundancies at RTÉ, and the organisation does not have money to fund a voluntary exit programme.

Secretary of the RTÉ Trade Union Group, Cearbhall Ó Síocháin, has criticised RTÉ losing 20% of staff over 4 years, stating “20% is a huge chunk of the workforce here. Any redundancies will have to be voluntary. And on past experience 400 seems like a tall order. You're talking 100 jobs a year on average over the course of this plan”.

RTÉ’s new Strategic Vision is also understood to propose moving more production to Cork and other regions in the coming years, while the amount of content produced by the independent sector looks set to increase. 

It is also understood that the +1 services for the RTÉ 1 and RTÉ 2 TV channels will cease, and digital radio stations RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ Pulse and RTÉ 2XM will also cease. The Strategic Vision also seeks to reduce operating costs by approximately €10m next year. Other plans include reducing the pay of its top presenters.

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