Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has told the Oireachtas Communications Committee that he hopes there will not be any further cuts to the contribution RTÉ receives from the Department of Social Protection.

A €5 million cut in the annual payment from the department to RTÉ for pensioners' TV licences was announced in the October Budget.

The minister was responding to a question from Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley on the reported comments by RTÉ Chairman Tom Savage in today's Irish Times.

Mr Savage said in correspondence to Mr Rabbitte that the reduction in public funding would be extraordinarily difficult to manage.

Today, Mr Rabbitte told the committee that the total contribution from the Department of Social Protection is nearly 20% of RTÉ's income.

He said it would be unconscionable were it to become the pattern "to take €5 million this year, €6 million the next year and €7 million the year after" from this revenue.

He said the Government was in a very awkward position but would like to think "that's the end of it".

Mr Rabbitte said any further cuts would have very serious implications for the transition from the traditional TV licence to a proposed household based charge.

He said that it is designed to tackle the level of evasion and deal with the issue of converging technologies.

If the cuts were to continue it would raise a question mark about the merits of this transition, he added.