Belfast Telegraph

More saving measures urged for RTE

RTE must come clean on where it can make more savings, its official watchdog has warned.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has dismissed suggestions from the State broadcaster that it cannot make any more cutbacks.

The authority has asked the Government not to provide any extra public funding to RTE until it reveals more cost-cutting measures.

Bob Collins, chairman of the BAI, said he recognised the station's austerity measures to date and that "eaten bread can be quickly forgotten". But he added a number of consultants have flagged up more potential savings - including staff costs and programme-making.

He said: "It is an issue that needs to be dealt with and cleared so we can then identify the amount of such savings that can be realised and move on. We don't have a list of savings that we believe can be made.

"There's a whole range of areas where savings can be made, whether in programme-making cost and personnel costs. There's a whole range of legacy costs RTE has by virtue of being where it is, as it is. Not all of those can be easily dealt with."

Mr Collins made his remarks after publishing the latest independent review into RTE as well as the BAI's own five-year plan for handing over public money to the broadcaster. The independent report said RTE should not get any extra public funding.

But the BAI dismissed this and called for further money to be handed over on the condition RTE cuts costs, outsources more programmes and frees up more advertising for commercial rivals. It has also called on the broadcaster to develop more home-grown Irish shows.

The Government has ordered its New Economy and Recovery Authority (NewEra) to immediately examine where the savings can be made.

Michael O'Keffe, BAI chief executive, added to the call for more savings. He said: "RTE would have given a view that all the low-hanging fruit, to use a cliche, has been cut. Our consultants wouldn't necessarily have agreed with that but they did say they required further work to be done in that area. "

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