On Thursday at Order of Business in the Seanad asked that the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten be invited to the House in order to give an outline of the strategy for RTÉ, the national public service broadcaster.
Full debate below:
Iarraim ar an gCeannaire an tAire a iarr isteach anseo le labhairt linn mar gheall ar straitéis RTÉ. Is craoltóir poiblí é RTÉ agus ceapaim gur mhaith an rud é don Seanad dá bhféadfaimis a fháil amach an straitéis agus an fhís do RTÉ agus céard atá ar siúl ag an stáisiún.
I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten to give us an outline of the strategy for RTÉ, the national public service broadcaster. I know that RTÉ is faced with many challenges and it would be very good for this House to have a debate on the public service broadcaster and where it is at, the direction it is taking and its strategy to reach that point. Some 4.2 million streamers stream into RTÉ on a monthly basis. The online feed is very important. RTÉ is actually key as a public broadcaster to the future of democracy in Ireland for example. RTÉ has 1 million listeners to its radio programmes on a weekly basis. Having said that, RTÉ faces significant competition in the market. The landscape is changing. RTÉ has roughly 30% to 33% of the overall marketplace, which has diminished significantly in the past number of years. The cost of operating RTÉ is roughly €350 million a year, an increase of 7% on the 2015 figure. The main reasons for that were the European football championship, UEFA EURO 2016, the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and the celebrations and special programmes for the centenary commemorative events. RTÉ is funded as follows – €160 million comes from commercial revenue and approximately €180 million comes from the licence fees. The problem with the licence fees is that it is not all collected. RTÉ does not get all of the revenue from the licence fee. There is a significant gap of an estimated €15 million plus a year in the licence fees that remain unpaid. RTÉ is key to small firms that are involved in television and radio productions and the allocation for expenditure to buy in home produced programmes has dropped by 40% since the year 2008. I am keen to hear the Minister’s view on the Irish language broadcasting on TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Céard é an plean atá ag RTÉ ó thaobh TG4 agus Raidió na Gaeltachta? Tá sé sin fíorthábhachtach ach ní dhéantar aon phlé air, beag ná mór. Dar liomsa agus go leor daoine eile, tá TG4 agus Raidió na Gaeltachta fíorthábhachtach agus fíorlárnach ó thaobh chraolachán na tíre seo. Ba bhreá liom tuairimí an Aire agus tuairmí RTÉ a fháil mar gheall air sin agus ba bhreá liom dá bhféadfaimis ceisteanna a chur le soiléireacht a fháil ar an straitéis agus an fhís do TG4 agus Raidió na Gaeltachta.
RTÉ is deeply involved in discussions on the sale of some of the property in Donnybrook for approximately €100 million. It will be good to find out their strategy for spending and investing that money.
Other colleagues, I am sure, have questions to be clarified by RTÉ, and I believe it would be appropriate to talk to the Minister about the strategy for our national broadcaster.