RTÉ may face cuts and structural problems unless it is given more funding, Curran warns

The whole media and journalism sector in Ireland faces persistent and structural problems that cannot be solved on their own, warns Director-General of RTÉ, Noel Curran.

Curran spoke out on the financial issues that may lead to service cut backs and structural revamp during an inaugural lecture for DCU’s Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo).

“I’d love to be standing up here telling you that all of RTÉ’s funding challenges are over and that we can all just look ahead and concentrate on programming. Until our funding model has changed that will not be the case,” he said.

The regulatory system governing the public service broadcasting in Ireland is broken, Curran said.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) have made three consecutive recommendations to increase RTÉ’s public funding.

These recommendations were ignored and public funding was cut by more than €15 million since Curran became Director-General of RTÉ in 2010.

Curran noted that either the BAI must be listened to or legislation regarding public funding must be changed.

Media policy needs to be controlled by a body independent of the government, Curran stressed.

“It is very difficult to see how a public media organisation, like RTÉ doing its job in an election campaign, is not going to ruffle some political feathers,” he said.

Mr. Curran expressed concerns of how RTÉ would be able to persuade the same political body that is needs broadcasting changes.

RTÉ is about to enter a new five year planning cycle, “without any meaningful response to the first one”.

He claimed that RTÉ is not seeking to increase the burden on individual households, but “a reform of the licence committee” which is no longer fit for purpose must be imposed.

“RTÉ is also not looking for a free ride,” Curran said. “We fully accept the added responsibility that such funding would bring”.

Hayley Halpin

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