RTÉ returned an operating net deficit of €6.4 million in 2017, according to its annual report, which was published today.

This is lower than the 2016 figure of €19.4 million.

The 2017 figure does not include exceptional items, including a net gain after tax of €78.5 million raised by the sale of land at its Donnybrook headquarters, and taking this into account the organisation saw a net surplus of €42.1 million.

Funds raised from the land sale are being used for capital and digital investment, to fund restructuring and reduce borrowing costs.

A programme of restructuring at the broadcaster, which included a voluntary exit scheme, cost €29.6 million in 2017 and 84 staff left the organisation in the first phase of that scheme.

RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes described 2017 as a year of significant change.

She said that if RTÉ was to return to a sustainable financial footing, "meaningful Government action" on reforming the licence fee system was essential.

Ms Forbes said that without action, there would be far-reaching consequences for journalism, cultural and creative expression and employment in the broader media sector.

She said that if RTÉ's revenue does not improve the entire Irish production sector will suffer.

RTÉ cited Brexit related impacts as one of the reasons for a 4% fall in commercial revenue in 2017 and said the overall advertising market remained "challenging".

It said there was an increase of €7m in TV licence fee collected, primarily because of an increase in public funding announced in 2016, and there was also an increase in the number of licence fee units sold.

Evasion levels are said to be around 15% of chargeable domestic households.

Total operating costs in 2017 were 2.5% lower than in 2016, which was a year of significant special events, including commemorations, covered by RTÉ.

The RTÉ annual report also lists a total remuneration package for Director General Dee Forbes as €338,000. This includes a salary of €250,000, a car allowance of €25,000 and retirement benefit contributions of €63,000. 

This does not represent an increase on the previous Director General's remuneration, in 2015 and 2014 when Noel Curran received a total of €337,000, including a salary of €250,000, car allowance of €24,000 and pension contributions of €63,000.

No performance related pay was paid to either Director General in that period.

Read: RTÉ Annual Report