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RTE wants major TV license changes to evict 282,000 Irish households from €160 fee evasion

The cash-strapped state broadcaster IRELAND is owed 65 million euros and wants significant changes to its “completely broken” television licensing system, which it says is costing it tens of millions of euros a year. five.

Even so, the RTE pays more than 173 million euros a year in employee salaries and expenses, including 117 workers who pocket more than 100,000 euros a year.

RTE is owed 65 million euros as it tries to cut spending and bring in new revenue streams.

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RTE is owed 65 million euros as it tries to cut spending and bring in new revenue streams.Credit: Crispin Rodwell – The Sun Dublin
RTE General Manager Dee Forbes wants to see the TV license system changed to include'TV-free homes' who she believes are using their service online.

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RTE General Manager Dee Forbes wants to see the TV license system changed to include ‘TV-free homes’ who she believes are using their service online.Credit: REFERENCES FOR CAPTION

And the disrupted State broadcaster has revealed it is in talks with internet giant Google to sell their content as they look for new ways to earn enough cash to continue their shows.

RTE General Manager Dee Forbes was today told by TDs at the Dail Public Accounts Committee about the broadcaster’s ongoing financial crisis.

During the session, it was revealed that RTE currently has a €65 million loan with Dee Forbes claiming that the broadcaster “cannot continue to transfer its funds to the people of Ireland” if the money problems are not fixed.

The Commission also heard that the RTE had run out of money in recent years due to deficits in five of the past six years.

The RTE is calling for changes to Ireland’s television licensing system under which households pay €160 a year to help fund the State broadcaster.

Most read in The Irish Sun

Dee Forbes wants to see a “major overhaul” of the system to help catch people who are avoiding royalties by not having a TV.

“I think this needs a lot of reform to reflect the way fees are charged and the way people watch television,” she told the commission.

“I think last time we talked about the fact that if you’re not in a household that doesn’t have a TV but you’re watching RTE through a Player or you’re listening to RTE radio, the current Broadcasting Act stipulate that it is OK.

“The current ways and means of viewing have changed all of that so the entire collection system as well as the Broadcasting Act needs to be reformed.

“I think that’s the important point to be considered here.”

‘No TV Hook’

RTE told the spending watchdog Dail that it is losing 65 million euros a year because 30% of households are not paying for a TV license.

State broadcaster figures show that in January of this year, 282,000 people did not have TV service in their homes.

These ‘TV-free homes’ make up 15% of households, and RTE considers them ineligible for the tax but still uses broadcaster streaming services like RTE Player.

However, RTE Player was met with much criticism at yesterday’s Commission hearing with TDs that it was not fit for purpose and had serious problems – with which Dee Forbes agreed that investment was needed. more on the online system.

RTE also released figures from 2020 showing that 15% of people simply evade taxes by refusing to pay and dodging TV license checkers.

The broadcaster believes that the combination of these two groups results in the sponsorship of TV rights worth more than 65 million euros that will not be collected by An Post.

RTE’s claim that 30% of households do not purchase a television license, resulting in a loss of 65 million euros does not add up.

It is likely that 15% of the ‘houses without a TV’ and 15% of the homes that the RTE claims are evading taxes overlap and with less than 30% of households not paying their TV license bills.

LICENSE COST

The government has asked the Future Communications Commission to examine RTE’s funding and possible changes to the television licensing system.

Several recommendations have been made to Communications Secretary Catherine Martin but have yet to be made to the Cabinet.

The latest figures show that in 2020, RTE has collected 196.6 million euros in television royalties and topped with 134 million euros in commercial revenue from advertising and other sources.

The breakdown of how your TV license fees are used shows that 75 million euros were spent on broadcasters including 48 million euros on RTE One and 26.4 million euros on RTE Two.

More than 28.5 million euros were split across radio output including 14 million euros on RTE Radio One, 2.7 million euros on 2fm, 8 million euros on Radio na Geartachta and 3.6 million euros on Lyric FM.

Almost 8 million euros were spent on the RTE orchestra and 10.7 million euros on online services.

GOOGLE TALKS

Dee Forbes told the Commission it had opened talks with tech giant Google to make more money from the content they produce put online.

“We’re going to find a way to get commercial benefit from that,” she said. They are long discussions. They are as complicated as you can imagine but they are work in progress.”

She said they are in talks with Google to “exchange fair value” for their content.

However, DG says that RTE has yet to initiate discussions with Facebook and other social media to ask them to pay for their content.

In 2019, the Government announced a €50 million bailout fund for the RTE with an additional €10 million in funding each year over five years.

As part of this agreement, RTE promised to introduce a series of cost-cutting measures, resulting in savings of 60 million euros over three years.

‘Difficult’ SAVE GOAL

In question by Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll McNeil, RTE said it had hit its goal of saving 10 million euros in 2020 but it declined to provide details on how much it will save in 2021.

RTE’s chief financial officer Richard Collins said the target would be “difficult to achieve” and admitted they hadn’t implemented salary-cutting elements in their 2020 savings plan.

State broadcaster currently has 1,866 full-time employees with 117 of these earning over €100,000.

RTE has previously been criticized for the huge salaries some of its stars bring in, with Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy topping the table at almost half a million euros a year.

Dee Forbes yesterday told the Commission that the top ten earners at RTE now account for 1% of the money the company brings in from television license bills.

However, she said that since 2020, RTE has managed to reduce the wage bills of their top 10 earners by 15%.

Dee Forbes says Ireland's TV license system is'totally broken'

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Dee Forbes says Ireland’s TV license system is ‘totally broken’Credit: Alamy

https://www.thesun.ie/news/8238983/ireland-tv-licence-cost-rte-finances-debt/ RTE wants major TV license changes to evict 282,000 Irish households from €160 fee evasion

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