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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 19 September, 2014

TV3 boss: The Government needs to get RTÉ’s tanks off our lawns

David McRedmond is calling for the proportion of money RTÉ gets from advertising to be cut as part of a sweeping reform of the market.

TV3 CEO David McRedmond
TV3 CEO David McRedmond
Image: Photocall Ireland

TV3 CEO DAVID McRedmond insists a Government decision to reduce or cut entirely the amount of money RTÉ can make from commercial income would benefit both broadcasters, but he says a change of mindset is needed within the Department of Communications before any such choice is made.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte is planning to bring forward legislation revising the rules for the amount of advertising public and commercial broadcasters are allowed to include, which could include a cap on permitted minutes per hour for the state service.

But the Ballymount boss wants the coalition to go further. In a speech to launch the company’s new autumn line-up yesterday, McRedmond told the assembled media it was time for the Government to “get RTÉ’s tanks off commercial lawns”.

A recent Broadcasting Authority of Ireland review of RTÉ funding recommended that any increase in revenue for the state broadcaster should be contingent on a “rebalancing between the public and commercial funding”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, McRedmond says the idea is “screamingly obvious” as “it’s happened in every other country that public service broadcasters are gradually or totally being taken out of the commercial ad market”. He adds:

RTE is going to get more money and more revenue anyway from the broadcast charge – because the charge is obviously going to be much more efficient as it will be driven by Revenue.

As that begins to come in then RTÉ will get more funding and should get less of a share of the ad market.

McRedmond reckons a change in mindset on the issue is needed in the Department of Communications, saying many officials “refuse” to alter their thinking. He adds:

What’s happening in the meantime is that RTÉ are going through crisis after crisis.
The market needs to be reformed. It’s as simple as that – dual finding doesn’t work.

Asked whether TV3 should get a cut of the new broadcast charge when it comes into effect in 2015, McRedmond gives a firm “no”:

All that should go to RTE. I’m a firm believer in that. RTÉ is a public service broadcaster so it should get that money, but it should exit the commercial market .

He says cutting off commercial revenue could have benefits for Montrose’s output too as “they wouldn’t have to go chasing revenue and could concentrate on higher quality public service content”.

The cast of Celebrity Apprentice at the launch of TV3′s autumn schedule yesterday (Photocall Ireland)

The recent BAI funding review of RTÉ recommended that any increase in funding for the broadcaster should also be contingent on further cost-cutting measures and an increased focus on the use of independent producers.

Minister Rabbitte has asked NewERA, the body charged with the oversight of the commercial State sector, to examine the scope for further savings in RTÉ.

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