RTÉ has reported a net deficit of €13m in 2018, according to its annual report which was published during the week.
This compares with a surplus of €42.09m in 2017, which included an extraordinary gain on the sale of some of its land in Donnybrook.
Total revenues for the year amounted to €337m, including a €186m contribution from the license fee. Commercial revenues, meanwhile, amounted to €151.5m. Of this figure, €137m was attributable to its commercial division which was formed in January 2018 as part of an overall divisional restructuring. The commercial division is responsible for advertising, sponsorship, circulation, event income as well as content sales and merchandising.
With the broadcaster operating in a difficult advertising market, the accounts note that advertising income amounted to €105m in 2018. This was down from the €111.8m achieved in 2017. Sponsorship income was also down from €10.5m to €10.2m.
The broadcaster highlighted the fact that special events broadcast during the year cost RTE €7.2m. These included the Papal Visit, the FIFA World Cup and the Presidential election.
Looking to the future, RTE said the commercial environment remains “very challenging, with inadequate levels of operational funding from both licence fee and commercial revenue to fund its obligations.”
Reiterating her call for additional funding from the licence fee, Director-General Dee Forbes appealed for reforms to how the licence fee is collected and the cost of collecting it.
“We want to do more,” Forbes said. “We are full of programme ideas, but every day we have to curtail our own ambitions and the creative ambitions of the broader independent production sector due to our constrained resources. … However, it will not be possible for RTE to maintain and enhance what we do and fulfil our remit without action from Government and a solution to the funding of public service media in Ireland.”