TV licence fee sales drop €10m in wake of controversy over RTÉ's secret payments to Tubridy

Broadcaster may lose €21m in TV licence revenue by end of year, bringing total State funding RTÉ may require to more than €55m

Sales of TV licences have dropped by just more than €10 million in the wake of the controversy of RTÉ's secret payments to former Late Late Show presenter Ryan Tubridy.

Purchases of the €160 licence fee are down by a third compared with the same 13-week period between June and September in 2022.

Revelations about the national broadcaster’s under-declaration of Mr Tubridy’s pay, as well as separate spending on corporate hospitality, broke towards the end of June.

TV licence sales have been lower than in 2022 ever since.


Amid existing financial woes, RTÉ had already sought interim funding from the State of €34.5 million last May.

It is believed the broadcaster will lose €21 million in TV licence revenue by the end of the year, bringing the total sum RTÉ may need to more than €55 million.

The Government has linked any bailout to reforms at RTÉ.

Some 187,769 licences were sold in the 13-week period from the end of June to the third week of September 2022.

There were 125,221 sales in the same period this year, some 62,548 fewer, or a drop of 33.3 per cent.

The corresponding year-on-year fall in revenue from the sales is €10,007,680.

There were 4,183 fewer sales in the third week of September – the most recent figures available – amounting to €669,280 compared to last year.

While some TV licence revenue goes to the broadcasting fund, administered by Coimisiún na Meán (The Media Commission), and the collector of the fee, An Post, the vast majority is used to fund RTÉ which also has a revenue stream from commercial advertising.

Earlier this month RTÉ reported a €2.8 million deficit for 2022, most of which is down to losses related to the ill-fated Toy Show The Musical production which lost €2.2 million.

RTÉ's annual report for 2022 also detailed a 10 per cent increase in executives’ salaries in the form of a restoration of a previous cut.

It says: “As part of cost-reduction initiatives prior to the onset of the global pandemic, the members of the executive had agreed to a salary reduction of 10 per cent, this reduction was reinstated from September 2022.”

Former director general Dee Forbes’s remuneration package increased from €306,000 in 2021 to €316,000 in 2022, a €10,000 increase.

Total licence fee revenue was €195.6 million in 2022, down €500,000 on the previous year.

RTÉ's commercial revenue stood at €152.1 million in 2022, up €3.8 million on 2021.

Chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh said the broadcaster’s 2022 annual report was finalised before the “crisis and turbulence of recent times”.

She also said the report “represents a particular moment in time for RTÉ, a time when a different culture was prevalent”.

“But now we must deal with the legacy of this siloed and dysfunctional culture.

“As an organisation we cannot shy away from the shortcomings and challenges that have been identified. Nor will we.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times