Statements & Speeches

RTÉ Welcomes European Commission Decision on State Aid Complaint

In August 2014, the European Commission received a complaint concerning the alleged non-compliance by the Irish authorities with regard to the state financing of RTÉ.

The complaint was submitted on behalf of Newstalk, and asserted that there was "no proper oversight of RTÉ’s accounting, governance and commercial strategy and that a gap in the regulatory framework has allowed RTÉ to refuse advertisements of its indirect competitors on arbitrary grounds and to undercut prices offered for similar radio advertising products."

The Commission has today announced that it is satisfied that a range of independent reports have correctly "not [found] evidence of RTÉ holding prices down artificially", that there is "sufficient oversight in respect of RTÉ's commercial activities", and that there is "no evidence that the annual reviews of public funding undertaken to date" have been insufficient.

The Commission noted the broad range of formal reviews of RTÉ’s activities undertaken by the BAI, Indecon and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The Commission concluded that "the commitments given by Ireland to establish effective supervision are met."

The Commission also noted that "there is no indication of a violation of the principle of market behaviour by RTÉ by the refusal to run a certain type of advertising competitors." The Commission states that "the complainant did not provide evidence or facts supporting the allegation that RTÉ's behaviour on the advertising market violated" any relevant principles, and that "RTÉ is both entitled and required to protect its commercial interests." The report concludes that "there is no other evidence for the neglect of market principles by RTÉ", and the Commission "does not see any evidence that RTÉ has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour in commercial markets which would lead to an increased State funding."

Commenting today, Willie O’Reilly, Director of Commercial at RTÉ, said: "This is an important decision by the European Commission and we welcome its clarity. The commission has confirmed that RTÉ is ‘both entitled and required to protect its commercial interests’. Much has been made of the rare occasions when RTÉ has, regretfully, needed to refuse advertising from competitors where such could be judged to threaten RTÉ’s ability to protect revenue. This decision by the European Commission supports RTÉ’s position and finds RTÉ compliant on all fronts."