RT drops programmes to cut costs

Andy Sennitt

Irish public broadcaster RT is to drop several programmes from its autumn [Television] schedule as part of its cost-cutting proposals to bridge a 68 million funding shortfall this year. RTɒs head of corporate communications Kevin Dawson said all production budgets have been squeezed by between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

The current steep decline in revenue that RT is experiencing cannot but have an impact on output. However, we are working to minimise this impact. This is not an outfit that is in decline. It is a challenge but our audience figures are terrific and our underlying business operation is strong, but these are savage times for revenue, he said.

RT staff are currently voting on pay cuts of between 2.35 per cent and 12.5 per cent and the results of the ballot will be announced next week. The shortfall has been caused by a decline in television advertising revenue.

RTɒs attempts to put a floor under its television advertising rates is resulting in shorter commercial breaks, according to the advertising industry. In March, RT announced it was moving from a floating rate depending on audience and share to a fixed rate which is 11 per cent below the rate for June to December last year.

Advertising agency Carat Irelands broadcasting director, Vivien McKechnie, said RT can legally run up to 7.5 minutes of advertising per hour, but the current rate is at about six minutes per hour. They are showing less commercials because they have increased the price, she said.