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RTÉ facing major uncertainty due to ‘broken funding model’, says RTÉ chairperson

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RTÉ will face “a material uncertainty” about its capacity to provide its current level of services in the medium-term unless its broken funding model is addressed “quickly and definitively”, according to RTÉ chairperson, Moya Doherty.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the warning by the head of the RTÉ board is contained in the station’s just-published annual report.

Ms Doherty remarked: “RTÉ cannot run deficits indefinitely. That much is clear. The current funding model is broken.”

The latest accounts show commercial revenue at the Montrose broadcaster declined by €4.2m to €145.8m in 2019 which RTÉ attributed to “Brexit uncertainty” curtailing expenditure on advertising as well as changes in media consumption habits.

However, licence fee income rose by €7.2m to €196.3m as a result of a €8.9m increase in public funding for “free” TV licences, although income from paid TV licences continued to decline with evasions levels estimated at 13 per cent.

RTÉ claimed such levels were significantly higher than the UK and other European countries, while collection costs were more than double that of some other public service broadcasters in Europe.

Public service broadcasting

Commenting on the figures, Ms Doherty said having a strategy for the survival of public service broadcasting became even “more real and essential” during 2019.

The RTÉ chairperson also made a thinly-veiled criticism of Government promises to reform what she described as “the broken TV licence collection system which more than any other factor threatens RTÉ’s role and future sustainability.”

She claimed it was a year when “we came face to face with how a lack of funding reform and legislative planning is threatening a public service platform that is central to our sense of selves, communities, our cultures and our global voice.”

However, Ms Doherty welcomed the Government’s decision to increase State funding for RTÉ in 2020 and to establish a commission on the future of public service broadcasting.

Ms Doherty said the RTÉ board had promoted public awareness of the challenges which the station faced which were grounded in a recognition that media is a complicated sector in which collaboration is essential.

“Legislative legacy and established RTÉ structure complicated the emergence of practices appropriate to this new order,” she observed.

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Ireland

Revenue seize €32,000-worth of drugs at Dublin Mail Centre

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Revenue have seized drugs worth an estimates €32,000 at the Dublin Mail Centre today as part of routine profiling.

Over 1.5kg of illegal drugs, including herbal cannabis and cannabis infused ‘jelly sweets’ were discovered with the assistance of detector dogs Bailey and Sam.

Revenue detector dog, Sam.

The drugs were found in parcels which had come from the US and UK which had been declared as clothing, tea, a backpack, an incense burner, and a candle set.

The parcels were being sent to various addresses in Dublin, Offaly, Kilkenny, Clare and Kildare.

Revenue say investigations are ongoing and anyone with information regarding smuggling is asked to contact the Revenue Confidential Line on 1800 295 295.

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Ireland faces ‘indefinite lockdown’ without further vaccine supplies, TD claims

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A Government TD has said Ireland faces an “indefinite lockdown” unless the State can secure more doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

Marc MacSharry has urged his Government colleagues to break with the European Union’s purchase system and to try obtain more doses directly from the companies involved.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said the Government intends to offer all citizens in Ireland a vaccine by September.

However, his Fianna Fáil party colleague Mr MacSharry does not believe the goal can be achieved with current number of doses expected.

“I want us to do the old-fashioned — lift the phone, secure supplies, and if they want €70 a dose, give it to them,” Mr MacSharry said.

“Otherwise, you’re looking forward to a fourth wave, an indefinite lockdown, and that is no good to any of us.”

The Republic has now administered 121,900 jabs of a Covid-19 vaccine, equating to 2.5 per cent of the population.

European Union leaders are meeting by video conference on Thursday to discuss a target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the bloc’s population by the summer.

Sequencing

The HSE’s chief Paul Reid told a weekly briefing that the country’s vaccination programme provided a roadmap for getting out of the pandemic.

However, he criticised some hospitals who have administered leftover vaccines to people other than their employees.

Ireland

Ireland ‘nowhere near’ easing Level 5 but schools…

“There has been much reporting this week of a smaller number of incidents and cases where some people have been vaccinated in a manner or certainly in a sequence that didn’t comply with the agreed sequencing,” Mr Reid said.

“I want to be very clear — this shouldn’t have happened, and nobody could have been confused or needed further clarity in terms of the agreed sequencing for the vaccines.”

Meanwhile, the Tánaiste has said that Ireland is “nowhere near where we need to be at present” to consider easing Level 5 restrictions.

Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that the numbers surrounding Covid-19 were too high to consider lifting restrictions in the short-term, but that did not mean schools could not reopen in February.

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