Today's hearing was called to shine a spotlight on the role of RTÉ’s board in the years leading up to the current crisis.

Members of the Oireachtas Media Committee specifically wanted to hear from those who should have provided proper oversight at the broadcaster.

Inevitably, the exchanges occasionally got bogged down in the detail of car allowances, club membership of Soho House in London and the 10% executive pay cut which was quietly reversed last year.

But there were moments when those charged with supervising the running of RTÉ faced some hard questions on their roles in the whole debacle.

Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin spoke of "major failing" by the board in not providing proper oversight and financial control citing the absence of the remuneration committee in recent years.

"All of this exploded, this will cost €50m, this is a failure on remuneration. You're the board, you're in charge of oversight, did anyone raise the fact that the remuneration committee only met a handful of times and broke its own rules."

Board member, journalist Ian Kehoe, said he regretted not raising the lack of meetings of the remuneration committee although he defended his role.

"Maybe we could have asked better questions but there was a continually inquisitive process ongoing and at times, I felt a level of frustration at the quality of the answers coming back."

Another focus was Toy Show the Musical and whether the board fully backed a risky proposition that eventually lost €2.2 million.

There were hints of more to come on whether the production was properly evaluated.

RTÉ chairperson Siún Ní Raghallaigh pointed to the Grant Thornton report already underway but admitted that there were issues with the oversight.

"There are questions on governance of that project," she said.

RTÉ staff representative on the board, Robert Shortt took responsibility for the board’s shortcomings.

"We didn’t ask enough questions and we didn’t take enough cognisance of the risks involved in the undertaking and that is a matter of profound regret to me."

In a testy exchange with RTÉ’s chairperson, Mr Griffin accused the board of playing a part in the financial crisis.

"You need to own the fact that you’ve cost 50 million through your failings as board and I’m not seeing any acknowledgement of that. I’m seeing loads of finger pointing from people but I’m not seeing this board accept that it had a huge role in this."

Ms Ní Raghallaigh said the board had accepted that licence revenue would be down €21 million this year but she also threw it back to politicians.

"I am accepting responsibility but I don't think we can accept responsibility in relation to the failings to address the issues around the funding model around RTÉ."

Another item on the agenda today was the land at Montrose and whether it should be sold.

Mr Bakhurst confirmed that there was a focus on moving more staff and production out of Dublin.

But he pushed back against the suggestion that there is a pot of money to be made by selling all the land in Dublin 4 and moving all production elsewhere.

Fianna Fáil Senator Shane Cassells probed whether it was a realistic option.

"It’s an easy thing for people to say - sell Montrose. But if you sell it once, it’s gone."

The Director General confirmed that a current valuation for the site has been sought and that all options are on the table in terms of a full or partial sale of the land.

But he added that RTÉ has also looked at what would be required to move and build new studios.

"It sounds like a great idea but priced up, what would it cost to move to another site."

For all the examination of the failures of the past that contributed to the current controversy, it was also clear today that the crisis at RTÉ has entered a new phase.

It is moving on from what Mr Bakhurst today called "the emergency" stage and is evolving into a more acute, deeper calamity that will precipitate painful changes.

What started with secret payments to broadcaster Ryan Tubridy was followed by a welter of revelations about profligate spending.

But now the crisis is a profound financial one with TV licence revenue down around €1 million per week and projected to amount to a shortfall of €21 million by the end of the year.

The committee heard that RTÉ is now projecting a deficit of €28 million for 2023 including the loss of licence fee revenue.

RTÉ needs a Government bailout and the coalition leaders and their financial advisers on semi-states, NewERA, are evaluating the numbers.

But reform and large-scale cost cutting is very much on the agenda.

Both the Director General and the chairperson stressed today that careful management of finances is underway.

A recruitment freeze and an end to discretionary spending have now been implemented.

But what lies ahead will be more difficult.

The Director General is reviewing the entire organisation and this will inform a costed restructuring plan.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh issued an ominous warning to politicians about what that would entail.

"Hard decisions must be made in order to achieve a fit for purpose public service broadcaster. These decisions may not be popular with stakeholders and policy makers, including perhaps this Committee."

This has been interpreted by many as meaning the sale or outright closure of services and output.

But when this has been attempted in recent years, it has been met with stiff political opposition.

In late 2019, former director general Dee Forbes announced plans to cut €60 million from RTÉ's costs.

Among the cuts, the closure of the Limerick studio the following year along with moving production of Lyric FM from that city to Cork and Dublin.

Just one month later, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar intervened in the Dáil to appeal directly to RTÉ to pause the sale.

Coincidentally, on the same day, RTÉ’s former director general was in front of another Oireachtas Committee outlining that the broadcaster must take "tough decisions".

The next day, RTÉ acquiesced to the Government request and the move was paused.

Another element of the plan was the sale of the RTÉ Guide. But that was shelved in the face of staff opposition.

An even earlier attempt to outsource all production of Young People’s Programming was also rolled back.

Now however, the climate has changed and the message from RTÉ today to politicians was that it must be allowed to streamline output and services in order to save money.

That is not simple politically.