RTÉ's decision to close its London office was debated in the Dáil this evening.

The organisation announced in March that it was closing the office as part of a €25m cost-cutting plan.

The Minister for Communications said that TDs would be surprised to hear that by the end of this year the RTÉ deficit will be €50m.

Pat Rabbitte described this as "an unconscionable amount of money".

He noted a great preponderance of that sum was accounted for by a redundancy programme.

Mr Rabbitte said RTÉ was in an acute financial crisis and he said he could not acquiesce to the organisation running a bottom line of that order.

The minister said in an era of digital media it was not necessary to have the same on-location provision as in the past and pointed out that London rental was an extremely expensive item.

He said if RTÉ could make savings elsewhere, then he was sure it would do that.

Mr Rabbitte said he had been advised by RTÉ that using digital technology, and with offices in Belfast, Brussels and Dublin, it was possible to ensure the quality of presentation from London would not suffer.

Labour TD Joanna Tuffy, who along with Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh tabled the topical issue, said the bedrock of good quality broadcasting is news.

Ms Tuffy went on to compliment the London office and its coverage of recent milestones between the UK and Ireland, as well as the peace process.

Mr McHugh said it was good that RTÉ was taking its cost issues seriously, but he said the political perspective was something different.