Following the launch of its new direction framework (see www.rte.ie/newdirection), the Government recently announced the provision of €40m in interim funding for RTÉ in 2024, subject to the implementation of further reforms.
As outlined to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and New Era, RTÉ’s overall running costs will rise in 2024 due to a number of special events and other inflationary pressures. Therefore, with a continued decline in sales of TV Licences and with commercial revenue projected to be broadly level year-on-year, RTÉ must implement a range of cuts to planned expenditure. Initially, RTÉ will implement a minimum of €10m in cuts to expenditure planned for 2024 in order to address immediate and significant financial challenges.
These cuts will include:
- Cuts to and deferrals of content
- An initial and limited Voluntary Exit Programme, to deliver a headcount reduction of 40. This will be funded by the 2017 land sale proceeds
- Ongoing freeze on recruitment
- Maintaining tight controls on discretionary spend
- Postponement of a range of capital and strategic projects, including the postponement of a planned brand refresh, and the postponement of planned podcasting and short-form content units
RTÉ has today confirmed the following reductions to planned content for 2024. The purpose of these deferrals is to help achieve a reduction in planned expenditure of a minimum of €10m, while simultaneously making available the production resources required to deliver the Olympic Games, the European Football Championships, local and European elections, and other special events.
These cuts and deferrals span a range of genres and will encompass both the production of in-house programmes and the timing of broadcast of some commissioned and co-produced content.
- Fair City will reduce on air from four to three episodes a week from January 4 to allow for a pause in production in July and August. RTÉ will continue to produce four episodes per week but will air three.
- RTÉ’s in-house Sunday evening summer factual programming will not be produced in 2024
- RTÉ will not produce an in-house Saturday evening entertainment show in the Spring of 2024
- Production of a third season of The Money List will be deferred until 2025 (a second season, produced in 2023 will air in 2024)
- The transmission of Young Offenders will be deferred until 2025
- The budget for acquired programmes will be reduced in 2024
- Additional savings will be delivered through production savings in News and Current Affairs and Sport
These cuts in production and postponements will contribute to overall savings of a minimum of €10m, and are part of an overall cost-management plan including an ongoing freeze on recruitment and the postponement of a range of capital and strategic projects.
Kevin Bakhurst, Director-General, says: “2024 will be a challenging year and one in which we will have to manage our cost base carefully. These deferrals of production and transmission, along with reduced production budgets, are hard choices. However, they will not only assist us in achieving the required savings, but allow for pro-active cost and resource management in the delivery of essential special events in 2024. With these temporary reductions and deferrals, we are seeking to maintain and preserve RTÉ’s schedules and public service delivery as much as possible.
With the launch of the new direction outline plan, my hope, as I have said before, is that we will enter 2025 armed with a robust strategy that makes the best use of the monies available to fund our national media service, monies we will invest as wisely and strategically as possible to improve the invaluable contribution of public service media to life in Ireland.
Those monies, of course, depend upon a decision on the future sustainable funding of public service media in Ireland.”