An independent review of orchestral services in RTÉ has recommended that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) be established as an independent body, or as part of the National Concert Hall and funded by Government.

However the report also says that RTÉ faces financial challenges and concludes that if support is not forthcoming, then a "poor second choice" would be the closure of one of the two RTÉ orchestras.

The report was carried out by Helen Boaden, former director of BBC Radio and BBC News, and looked at the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

It found that RTÉ's orchestras are the only full-time full-size professional orchestras in Ireland and that there is strong support among Irish audiences for their existence.

However, it also says that RTÉ saw a reduction in income of 24% between 2008 and 2016 and that it is hard to see how it can fund even the current level of orchestral provision, let alone increase budgets to allow the orchestras to return to full strength and undertake touring and education programmes.

Therefore it recommends that the RTÉ NSO be established as a national cultural institution in its own right, or as part of the National Concert Hall and funded by Government with some contribution from RTÉ for the right to broadcast its performances, and that the RTÉ Concert Orchestra remains within RTÉ.

The RTÉ board is to consider the report and its recommendations later this week.

Read the report
Highly strung: Is there a future for RTÉ's orchestras?

Both SIPTU and the Musicians' Union of Ireland have cautioned RTÉ against any proposal to "outsource" the NSO.

In a statement, the unions said that "SIPTU and MUI members are fundamentally opposed to this proposition and will defend their position vigorously."

Both the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  have welcomed the publication of the report.

Denis Naughten and Josepha Madigan have requested officials from their departments to engage with RTÉ with a view to bringing forward proposals to address the recommendations.