Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has warned Irish media outlets that the television licence is not a solution to falling advertising revenues and the challenges posed by technological change.
Speaking at the TV50 conference in UCC, the minister said that as media in Ireland becomes more globalised, the need for a robust and well funded national broadcaster is essential, and people should be prepared to pay for it.
However, Mr Rabbitte said such a broadcaster should be challenged to do better and to do more with the valuable resources given to it.
The minister warned that the dramatically changed media environment is posing huge challenges for all Irish broadcasters and for media policy in general in Ireland.
Irish broadcasters, he said, have to compete with the very best the world has to offer, while still catering for the particular needs of the domestic market.
With falling advertising revenues, and increasing competition online, the future lacks certainty.
"RTÉ cannot sit still, it cannot wait for the market to suit it - it has to continually adapt and change. This is not an easy task," he said.
"The economic circumstances are difficult; the organisation is losing staff and experience as it seeks to return to financial stability."
The minister was speaking to delegates attending a conference at University College Cork, organised by the School of History on 50 years of Irish television and its future.
RTÉ Director General Noel Curran said that if the national broadcaster is to do its job it has to be properly funded and "the cycle of financial crisis that bedevilled the organisation, ended".
He told delegates that RTÉ is well on its way to fixing its finances but the station is at a crossroads.
However, Mr Curran said how the station is to be funded has to be the subject of a debate.
RTÉ he said would set out a fully-costed five-year strategy plan by the end of this year.
This would set out its plans and services for the future as well as how it can be financially supported and sustained.