RTÉ has reported a deficit of €4.7m for last year, an improvement from the €16.5m deficit recorded in 2009.

In its annual report, published today, chairman Tom Savage said the broadcaster had carried through a programme of cost cuts aimed at addressing a rapid decline in commercial revenues.

But he said RTÉ was facing 'renewed uncertainties' this year. He said the December Budget, along with changes introduced in the 2009 Broadcasting Act, would have a negative effect of €20m a year on RTÉ.

RTÉ must provide €10m of funding to TG4 from television licence money, while a ceiling has been imposed on the amount to be paid by the Department of Social Protection for free television licences for some social welfare recipients. There are also increased regulatory costs.

Director General Noel Curran said that some of these developments prevented RTÉ from reporting a small surplus for 2010.

RTÉ said its commercial revenue stabilised last year, moving up 1% to €175.7m. Television advertising revenue was up 1%, but radio fell 2.1%. Other advertising grew by 2.1%.

RTÉ said the outlook for commercial revenue remained 'extremely challenging', with little prospect of a return to growth in consumer confidence in the near-term.

Revenue from the television licence dropped by €4m or 2% to €196m. RTÉ said it still had concerns about the level of evasion, though it was not possible to quantify the extent of the problem.

Total operating costs were cut by 3%, with staff costs falling by 4%. Staff numbers were reduced by 3% during the year to 2,151.