Thursday, 13 July 2023
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Raidió Teilifís Éireann
65. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she believes systemic issues such as advertising, commercial pressures and the funding model have negatively impacted on the public service remit of RTÉ and contributed to the controversy that has now emerged in the broadcaster; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34687/23]
There has been much public fury about the secret payments in RTÉ, the pay cuts that were not pay cuts, secret accounts and so on. One of the things that has come across very strongly in all of this is how commercial activity and advertising have serious undermined and negatively impacted on the public service remit of RTÉ. Does the Minister agree that is a serious problem that needs to be addressed? What are her proposals in order to address it?
Go raibh maith agat. As a public body established by statute, the role of RTÉ is as set out in the relevant legislation, the Broadcasting Act, 2009. However, since its former establishment through the Broadcasting Authority Act 1960, RTÉ has been dual funded through the television licence fee and through commercial income which has historically been pursued through the sale of advertising and sponsorship. This is recognised in legislation. Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 sets out the objects of RTÉ, first, to operate a national television and sound broadcasting service which has the character of a public service to the whole community on the island of Ireland. The tenth object states, "so far as it is reasonably practicable, to exploit such commercial opportunities as may arise in pursuit of" RTÉ's other objects. The recent controversy in RTÉ has definitely raised questions regarding the manner in which RTÉ's commercial operations and its public service operations interact. It is for that reason in launching the independent examination of RTÉ, I have specifically set out in the terms of reference that the review of governance and culture in RTÉ should assess any cultural characteristics or ways of doing business in RTÉ including the impact of RTÉ's commercial income activities on its public service remit that are likely to contribute to the findings of the Grant Thornton reviews.
My intention in establishing the examination is to assist in the process of rebuilding trust in RTÉ for the benefit of its audiences, the public, its staff and all of us who believe in the value of public service broadcasting.