No paywall at RTÉ, says director general Noel Curran

New children’s channel RTÉjr launched

Children at the launch of RTÉjr, the new children’s channel on radio, online and mobile, at RTÉ studios yesterday.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Children at the launch of RTÉjr, the new children’s channel on radio, online and mobile, at RTÉ studios yesterday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 09:37

RTÉ will not be erecting a “paywall” when it starts charging for content accessed by international visitors to its website, director general Noel Curran has said.

Mr Curran said that RTÉ will begin charging for “premium content” either at the end of this year or the start of next year.

However, he said there will not be a general paywall for all users of the site.

He has already indicated that RTÉ’s news content will be free for overseas audiences.

Speaking at the launch of the RTÉjr station for children yesterday, Mr Curran said RTÉ had resisted the temptation to include advertising on the service despite the current situation at the broadcaster, which is grappling with an operational and pension deficit.

“In the middle of everything that is going on with the economy, the fact that we are doing this without advertising is a really important statement,” he said.

The new RTÉjr channel, which is backed up by a radio station and online presence, is being paid for out of the existing budget.

RTÉ’s cross-divisional head of children’s content, Sheila de Courcy, said merchandising some of the children’s programmes, a strategy that has been very successful for BBC Worldwide, was something that could be considered down the line.

“There is potential in the material that we do that we can produce it and it is a very nice way of reaching out to kids, but it will not become a primary way of funding programmes as envisaged,” she said.

Also speaking at the launch, RTÉ’s managing director of television, Glen Killane, said he envisaged the hit drama series Love/Hate going on for at least two more seasons.

He said series like it need to have 20 episodes to be viable for sale to an overseas audience and Love/Hate was approaching that figure.

“Drama is incredibly expensive. We can’t afford to produce 20 episodes in any given year but after three series we are reaching that critical mass,” he said.

“I’d see Love/Hate going to more territories in the near future. There is plenty of legs in it. There’s definitely more series in it.”

He envisaged a fifth series of the drama, but it would be up to the production team to keep it going.