The RTÉ annual report for 2004 shows that the station recorded an operating profit of €6.8 million last year.

The report was launched this afternoon following its approval by cabinet. It shows that an additional €6.5 million was spent on home produced programming last year.

Launching the report, RTÉ Authority Chairman, Paddy Wright, said it was the most transparent annual report in RTÉ's history.

Mr Wright described 2004 as a good year for the organisation, during which the benefit of recent difficult decisions had shone through.

Mr Wright identified the move to digital broadcasting as posing a significant challenge for the organisation into the future, due to the 'serious investment required'. He also called for a consolidation of existing broadcasting acts into legislation, which would ensure the future of independent public service broadcasting.

Director General, Cathal Goan, said the organisation was currently consolidating its position, in preparation for a migration to a digital environment. However, Mr Goan said these changes would not see the creation of new channels this year.

Mr Goan said confidence in RTÉ amongst advertisers had led to very buoyant commercial revenue in the first four months of the year. He also expressed concern at the high level of television licence fee evasion here, which is twice the rate of the UK.

The Minister for Communications, Noel Dempsey, described RTÉ's performance in 2004 as a very positive one from both a financial and public service broadcasting point of view.

This was the final annual report of the current RTÉ Authority. Its five year term of office comes to an end at the end of this month.

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Communications said it was not clear when the make-up of the new authority would be announced.