Financial warning from RTE chief

By Des Cryan in Dublin

RTE authority chairman Paddy Wright has warned that, despite the sizeable licence fee increase of 40 per cent, the financial pressures on the broadcaster this year have already begun to increase.

RTE’s annual report for 2002 shows the Irish state broadcaster recorded a loss of e56m (£39m).

While director general Bob Collins says that RTE faces this year with considerable optimism, management accounts have been cited to show that the broadcaster was running a deficit of e2.1m (£1.5m) for the first two months, whereas a surplus for the period had been anticipated.

The war in Iraq is being blamed as one of the main causes for an advertising downturn. It now seems that unless the broadcaster cuts costs or brings in greater advertising revenue, RTE is in danger of slipping back into deficit this year.

Also of concern to the station is the BBC’s move to an unencrypted free-to-air satellite available throughout Ireland from 10 July. Irish viewers who acquire a satellite dish will be able to access up to 90 channels free of charge.

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