RTÉ will avail of temporary wage subsidy scheme

Public service broadcaster expects 25-35% drop in revenues in 2020

RTE director general Dee Forbes: broadcaster plans to use the wage subsidy scheme for the next 10 weeks. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

RTE director general Dee Forbes: broadcaster plans to use the wage subsidy scheme for the next 10 weeks. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

RTÉ is availing of the Government’s Covid-19 temporary wage subsidy scheme, it told employees on Wednesday. It will top up payments to staff and has informed them that they won’t be out of pocket as a result of the scheme.

The public service broadcaster said the coronavirus crisis was having “a significant impact” on its business, affecting both commercial and licence fee revenue.

RTÉ director general Dee Forbes now expects revenues will drop 25-35 per cent this year.

The broadcaster plans to use the wage subsidy scheme for the next 10 weeks and has updated staff who will be part-paid through the scheme for that period of the implications for their net pay and future tax liabilities.

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The scheme, which was introduced by the Government in late March and substantially revised last week, is open to RTÉ as it is a commercial semi-state body. It is not open to the public service or non-commercial semi-states.

Revenue pressure

Based on its 2018 figures, the latest to have been published, a 30 per cent decline in commercial revenues would wipe €45 million off RTÉ’s revenue base this year.

Members of RTÉ’s executive board have taken a 10 per cent pay cut, while employees have been asked to take 50 per cent of their annual leave before the end of June.

“Like many companies and organisations, RTÉ has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. RTÉ is seeing significant declines in TV licence fee revenue and in our commercial income,” it said in a statement.

“RTÉ was already implementing cost-cutting measures as part of our revised strategy, so these declines have put further pressure on finances at a time when the need to provide vital news, information and entertainment to the public is more crucial than ever”