Republic of Ireland news

Union criticises decision by RTÉ to axe 300 jobs

From left, RTÉ ex-chair Tom Savage, presenter Miriam O' Callaghan and former minister for communications Pat Rabbitte marking the digital switchover in 2012
Ed Carty

RTÉ is to cut up to 300 jobs.

Staff at the state broadcaster have been told the redundancies will be voluntary and are expected to be completed over the next two years as it aims to improve its finances.

Nine acres of land at RTÉ's Montrose headquaRTÉrs in Dublin 4 is also being sold with a guide price of €75 million.

RTÉ director general Dee Forbes said the broadcaster has lost €100m since 2008 and also warned about the drop in income from licence fees and advertising.

"The exact numbers are not yet known. It will be in the region of two to three hundred (jobs)," she told the Today With Sean O'Rourke show on RTÉ Radio.

The National Union of Journalists said it was concerned about the lay-offs plan.

General secretary Seamus Dooley said the public service ethos of the state broadcaster must be protected and he also noted the changes workers have already gone through.

"The future of public service broadcasting in Ireland will not be secured without an increase in the licence fee and reform of the current outdated and grossly inefficient collection system," he said.

"Any consideration of the future of RTÉ must include a review of current levels of funding. Restructuring without a parallel process of investment in resources is doomed to fail. In this regard there is a need for organisational and political leadership."

Ms Forbes said the licence fee works out at 40 cents a day and is "great value".

"Any notion that it be doubled is nonsense. What I am focused on is reform of the fee collection system to recover some €40m per annum that is lost to the entire Irish sector every year through evasion," she said.

The job cuts will run alongside changes to RTÉ's organisational structure over the next 18 months, with new content divisions replacing existing radio, television and digital sections.

RTÉ also said the land being put up for sale was under-utilised.

Ms Forbes said commercial and licence fee revenue has fallen from €440m in 2008 to €330m and that the broadcaster has maintained services and output on vastly reduced income.

"That is unsustainable. The funds from the land sale will be used to invest in much-needed technology upgrades and in key digital infrastructure, to reduce debt levels, and to carry out other essential workplace improvements," she said.

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Republic of Ireland news