RTÉ Taxpayer Bailout "Will Come With Conditions" Says Leo Varadkar

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that any taxpayer funding for RTÉ will come with conditions.

Mr Varadkar made these comments following revelations of a recent shortfall in licence fee subscriptions of €1 million in the first week of August, a situation that he described as "still evolving"

This Summer has seen RTÉ embroiled in a saga, where they have faced several awkward questions over undisclosed payments made to presenter Ryan Tubridy over the last few years, along with slush funds for entertaining clients.

“There has been a long-standing request from RTÉ for additional transitional funding, but we haven’t received, at least as of now, a request for funding on top of that", Leo Varadkar stated. 

The Taoiseach added, “I would certainly encourage people to continue to pay their licence fee, notwithstanding the recent controversy". 

He also explained that the licence fees  “pays for news, arts broadcasting, sports, children’s television, Irish language broadcasting – things that are of real value”.


On the current financial situation of the national broadcaster, Leo Varadkar said that “There would have to be conditions" for any bailout from the taxpayer. 

“Ultimately, if we’re put in the position where we have to provide more funding to RTÉ from taxpayers, I think taxpayers would expect conditionality to be attached to that", he continued. “And we’ve had instances before where the Government has had to provide additional finance to the banks, or has had to provide finance to sporting bodies that got into financial trouble, or had to provide additional digital finance to An Post, for example". 

“But on all occasions there were terms and conditions and expectations attached to that". 

The Taoiseach also claimed that the public would not support a proposal from People Before Profit to abolish the licence fee, in exchange for investing €500 million of state money into RTÉ, along with €500 million to other media outlets.

Calling it a giveaway of €1 billion in taxpayer's money, Varadkar also added, “I’m not sure if the public would support that, quite frankly. They might support it to a certain amount, and they would like to see it spread around and not all go to RTÉ, but if we had an extra billion euro of taxpayers’ money, giving it to the media wouldn’t be my highest priority". 

The Fine Gael leader also feels that new RTÉ Director-General Kevin Bakhurst is off to a "good start". 

“He does understand the situation and I think he’s doing his best to put it right,” he said. “I think it’s also important to re-state that whatever mistakes or irregularities occurred in RTÉ, the majority of the staff had nothing to do with it and would have been unaware of it. We need to bear that in mind".


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