RTÉ reports loss of €65.2 million and operating profit of more than €2m for 2012
Deficit created by major restructuring
RTÉ director general Noel Curran: “Crucially, throughout this very difficult period, RTÉ has continued to deliver for audiences across all its services.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
RTÉ has reported a loss of €65.2 million for 2012 but it also made an operating profit of more than €2 million. Senior executives said this was an indication that the worst of the financial crisis, which has engulfed the national broadcaster since 2008, was coming to an end.
In its annual report published yesterday, RTÉ said a major restructuring was largely behind the deficit and stressed it was on target to break even this year.
Revenue fell by €13.7 million last year, a decline which the Government has described as a cause of some concern.
One of the key figures in the report was a one-off €46 million charge which was used to restructure the company’s operations and reduce its cost base.
Operating costs fell by €18.4 million last year; its cost base is 30 per cent lower than it was five years ago and has fallen by €104 million since 2008.
Almost 500 staff have left the organisation since 2008, with 270 going last year under RTÉ’s voluntary redundancy schemes.
“I remain confident, notwithstanding a very difficult market environment, that the changes we have implemented have stabilised the financial base of the organisation,” director general Noel Curran said. “Crucially, throughout this very difficult period, RTÉ has continued to deliver for audiences across all its services. That must always be our primary focus.”
On the sums paid to RTÉ’s most high-profile broadcasters, the station’s chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe said there had been very significant reductions already. “
We have made a very clear commitment in terms of top talent fees and we have targeted reductions in excess of 30 per cent and we are on track to deliver it.”
Ms O’Keeffe said last year the average RTÉ salary was €55,000 which was in the mid-range of public service companies.
RTÉ’s managing director of corporate affairs Brian Dalton said that despite cutbacks, the station had “at all times acted to protect content”.
The public retained a significant level of confidence in the national broadcaster despite recent controversies in its current affairs department, he added.
A recent Prime Time programme which highlighted care issues at creches across the State was indicative of the quality programming the station could produce.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte expressed concern about a fall in revenue. A spokesman said he had made it clear that the station must return to stability this year.
A spokesman accepted that the station would “continue to operate in a challenging financial environment, particularly in the increasingly fragmented and competitive advertising market” but said the department would be “closely monitoring the financial position of RTÉ on an ongoing basis”.