RTE introduces recruitment freeze as licence fee revenues slump

RTE has introduced an immediate recruitment freeze as the broadcaster continues to grapple with fall in licence fee revenue following a series of controversies.

Director general Kevin Bakhurst announced the move to staff prior to appearing before a parliamentary committee in Dublin later on Wednesday.

The crisis at RTE erupted in June when the broadcaster revealed it had not correctly declared fees to its then highest-paid earner Ryan Tubridy between 2017-2022.

The furore subsequently widened as a series of other financial and governance issues emerged.

RTE pay revelations
RTE director general Kevin Bakhurst (Brian Lawless/PA)

Prior to its difficulties over the summer, RTE had asked the Irish government for 34.5 million euro in additional interim funding this year.

Since then its revenues have taken a further major hit, with the broadcaster currently projecting a loss of 21 million euro by year end due to a fall in TV licence payments in the wake of the controversies.

The Government has yet to decide how much extra funding it will release to the embattled organisation, but has made clear that any investment will have to be reciprocated with a significant programme of reform.

RTE pay revelations
Ryan Tubridy was RTE’s highest-paid earner (Niall Carson/PA)

In an email to staff on Wednesday morning, Mr Bakhurst told them what he would be announcing at the committee hearing.

“I also wanted to let you know that I will be confirming that we are introducing a recruitment freeze with immediate effect and stopping all discretionary spend to preserve cash whilst we get clarity on our financial position in going forward,” he wrote.

“I regret having to do this as it will impact on our coverage and on our investment in equipment and our digital plans.

“However, given the steep fall in the licence fee and the uncertainty over interim funding, it is the only responsible thing that we can do.

“I hope we will have more clarity over interim funding in the coming days and weeks and of course I will update you in more detail when I can, but I wanted to share this with you in advance of speaking in a public forum.”