With stars including Moe Dunford, Charlie Cox, Dervla Kirwan and Claire Dunne in attendance, the launch of the new RTÉ schedule today was a high profile affair.

This is the first time since the pandemic that the broadcaster has been able to hold a full launch event and those celebrating the new season also included Ryan Tubridy, ahead of the 61st season of the Late Late Show, Dermot Bannon who will be back with Room to Improve and Incredible Homes, as well as Brian Dowling and Arthur Gourounlian who will be documenting their surrogacy journey as part of the new series of factual programmes.

It was the announcement of more than 40 hours of drama, however, that was the centrepiece of today's event.

Director General Dee Forbes said the number represented the largest drama slate to date and a 55% increase on last year.

Irish drama - and how it's produced and funded - has undergone many changes in recent years.

Although shows like Fair City are still produced in house by RTÉ, bigger budget productions tend to be undertaken with national and international partners, increasing both the budget available and the possibility for international distribution.

Take Smother, for example, the family drama set in Clare which is now entering its third season.

Smother is produced by the BBC along with Irish independent company Treasure Entertainment for RTÉ, and has been sold to multiple territories worldwide.

Speaking at today's launch, star Dervla Kirwan said the popularity of the series has had a significant impact, not just on the cast and crew who were able to keep working right through Covid, but also on Lahinch and West Clare where the series is filmed and which is now seeing its dramatic scenery put on display to a worldwide audience.

Also speaking to RTÉ News, Claire Dunne, star of the crime thriller Kin, spoke of how proud she was that a series with such an international feel could be produced in Ireland with a highly skilled Irish crew.

Although Kin features familiar locations around Dublin city, the series is produced by the US-based Bron Studios and Headline pictures in association with RTÉ, AMC, Nordic Entertainment Group and Creative Wealth Media, and also received support from the BAI and Screen Ireland.

Viewers who simply want to enjoy the devious doings of the Kinsella family will barely take in these names as they fly past in the credit sequence but their support was vital in getting such a high quality drama to the screen.

When filmed in Ireland, shows like these are important for employment in the Irish production sector and also have a knock-on effect on the local economy when accommodation for cast and crew, for example, is taken into account.

It is for all these reasons that bodies including Screen Producers Ireland, which represents the independent production sector, tend to lend their voice to RTÉ when the broadcaster seeks funding information from Government.

Last month, the report of the Future Media Commission was finally published by Government, which accepted 49 of its recommendations but not the one relating to reform of the television licence fee.

The Government has instead asked a technical group to examine the overhaul of the TV licence system and this group is due to report back in November.

Following the announcement, Screen Producers Ireland said it was "disappointed" with what it described as "a lack of tangible actions and clarity on RTÉ's financial stability".

Ms Forbes described today as a day to celebrate Irish culture and programming but reiterated that stable funding for the broadcaster is needed to ensure that more days like this will be held in the future.

Although today's launch centred on RTÉ, the independent production sector is also anxiously awaiting licence fee and funding news.