RTÉ chief sets sights on boosting export sales to help make ends meet at home
A turnaround at RTÉ’s second channel – the target of constant criticism from commercial rival TV3 – is also on Killane’s wishlist.
In isolation, RTÉ Two recorded a net deficit of €17.6 million in 2011. Understandably given the broadcaster’s financial predicament, its listings have been light on original programming as the collapse in advertising revenue took its toll on budgets.
RTÉ Two did manage to reverse some of the losses in audience share it sustained in 2011, but there was little ker-ching.
“I think we had a good year last year in terms of our share – the Olympics and the European Championships on RTÉ Two really helped – but the money didn’t follow. So I think you could assume that some of the money has left the market,” says Killane.
Plenty to satirise
He has been happy with the performance of comedy programmes Republic of Telly, The Mario Rosenstock Show, The Savage Eye, The Fear and various Katherine Lynch vehicles on RTÉ Two, as well as Irish Pictorial Weekly on RTÉ One.
“There’s a good appetite at the moment for satire – there’s plenty to satirise.”
Applicants for the RTÉ Two controller job should bear in mind that Killane is keen for more comedy on the channel, as well as factual programming such as its Reality Bites strand.
Meanwhile, Sheila de Courcy, who was appointed cross-divisional head of children’s content at RTÉ in December, will become the controller of RTÉ jnr, the channel aimed at 0-6-year-olds. This appointment is “a statement of intent” for RTÉ on children’s programming, says Killane.
The broadcaster is on target to cut its spend on sports rights and imports. On imports, it is getting cut out of deals anyway by the commercial might of Sky, which has been buying up premium US content, something of a sore point.
“We wrote to the Minister some months back because we felt we were being badly treated, as Sky were tacking the Irish rights on to the end of their UK deals,” he says. The viewer ratings for RTÉ’s broadcast of Grey’s Anatomy are “way down” this year, because its all-important “first-window” rights to show the hospital drama soon after it is broadcast in the US was scuppered this season by a Sky deal.
“There’s no way we can compete with these huge UK channels and platforms,” says Killane. “Their budgets are multiples of ours.”