RTÉ to report 'small surplus' in 2013

Wednesday 26 March 2014 21.51
Noel Curran said more would be invested in programming and content if there is an increase in public funding to the station
Noel Curran said more would be invested in programming and content if there is an increase in public funding to the station

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran has said that, following a range of cost-saving measures, the broadcaster will report a slight surplus in 2013.

He also said if there is an increase in public funding to the station it will be invested in programming and content for its audience.

Speaking at an Oireachtas committee hearing, Mr Curran said that no individual legal settlement will weaken the broadcaster's resolve to present a wide range of views on current affairs and to allow challenging debate.

Mr Curran outlined the cost-saving measures taken by the broadcaster in recent years and said 2013 will be the first surplus for the station since 2008.

However, he said the station is at a crossroads and is facing increasing commercial competition from multinational media organisations.

He said if there is to be an increase in public funding from a new broadcasting charge, that it will be spent on increased investment in programmes and other areas including news and drama production.

Mr Curran said RTÉ wants to invest more in news operations by adding more live bulletins, regional news, international news, re-opening the London office and having more feature programming.

In relation to a recent legal settlement following an edition of The Saturday Night Show that mentioned homophobia, Sinn Féin's Michael Colreavy said the broadcaster had "rolled over".

However, RTÉ Director of Legal Affairs Eamonn Kennedy said that in some instances to continue to defend something in the context of the existing legal system is "fool hardy".

Mr Curran said the 2009 defamation act is due to be reviewed this year and the broadcaster would like to see some changes.

The meeting was also attended by Deputy Director General and Managing Director, RTÉ News and Current Affairs, Kevin Bakhurst, as well as Chief Financial Officer Breda O'Keeffe.

Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan said the fees paid to some RTÉ staff is unacceptable and there is other talent out there and that has been shown over the last few months.

Mr Curran said he is "absolutely concerned" about the public concern around presenters' fees.

He said they were RTÉ's fault and not the presenters, as people will negotiate the largest amount they can get.

The director general said that RTÉ responded to public concern around this issue.

Mr Bakhurst said he is aware of the scrutiny around oversees coverage and the money it spends on it.

He said that in a world where it is competing against international media organisations, events such as the election of the new pope have to be covered.

He said its Europe Editor Tony Connelly, Europe Correspondent Paul Cunningham and one cameraman did a great job from Ukraine, while the BBC had 75 people there.