The chairwoman of the RTÉ Board has said RTÉ has been "starved of funding for a long, long time" and called on the Government to lead a national debate on the future of public service media.
Moya Doherty said the Government's failure to invest further in RTÉ is not acceptable and there has been "an absence of understanding of the acceleration of this industry".
Speaking on RTÉ's Marian Finucane Show, she said change and transformation is painful but the board cannot continue to sanction the deficits that exist.
Ms Doherty suggested the Government ask British film producer David Puttnam to lead a collaborative debate to discuss what is best for the future of public service media.
She said this could take the form of a similar process in the UK, where the BBC and Ofcom have set up a debate called Small Screen, Big Debate.
Ms Doherty said without Government collaboration on improving the licence fee collection system and on supporting the organisation, it will not survive.
She said Ireland has a very expensive collection system and RTÉ has seen no increase in the fee since 2008.
She stressed that money for content must come from somewhere, because "without content RTÉ is nothing".
Ms Doherty said that the media industry is undergoing cataclysmic change globally, which is painful and incredibly difficult.
She added that change must be "transformative" and RTÉ must become a modern, more efficient media service.
She said RTÉ's place in Irish society must be protected, saying "we don't want Netflix and Sky to dilute the Irish voice".
"We have to fight back against that," she said.
Ms Doherty said reform will hurt some people, adding we must "work together to create a sustainable organisation" and said the board fought to retain Lyric FM, although it will move from Limerick.
She said the board supports Director General Dee Forbes and her team 100% in their efforts to bring about reforms and staff cuts.
Ms Doherty said that management must now start to discuss with unions about how to improve and modernise work practices and make efficiencies.
She said current reforms will cover the next three years, but more change will likely follow that.
She said she understands the commitment people in RTÉ have "but we must make this organisation fully sustainable and fiscally break even" for the future.
Meanwhile, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has said RTÉ management has "a Montrose attitude" and should not look at closing regional studios as part of its reform agenda.
There has been political criticism of the decision by RTÉ to close the Lyric FM studio based in Limerick and relocate production for the national classical music station to Dublin and Cork.
John Paul Phelan told Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra that some of the measures announced as part of RTÉ's cost-cutting plans are reasonable, but those at a regional level relating to Lyric FM are not.
He said that the BBC moved much of its broadcasting out of London to the regions and RTÉ should look at such models.
The minister said he favours introducing a broadcasting charge but said it is not at all unreasonable for RTÉ to look first at how they are spending the money they have.