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25th Aug 2023

Government urges the importance of “paying for a TV licence”

Stephen Porzio

tv licence

In the wake of a new report about RTÉ’s finances, the Media Minister has said not paying for a TV licence is “damaging”.

As a new report examining RTÉ’s barter account has been published, Minister for Media Catherine Martin used the occasion to emphasise the importance of paying for a TV licence.

The interim report comes from Mazars, the accounting firm appointed by Martin to examine the use of the barter account and any other identified off-balance sheet accounts by the broadcaster.

This comes in the wake of the RTÉ secret payment scandal that came to light this summer.

“Alarming gaps” at RTÉ

In a statement published on the Government’s website following the release of the report from Mazars, Martin said the 24-page document from the accounting firm set out “alarming gaps in internal policies, procedures and controls that existed in RTÉ”.

The Government states that the key issues highlighted in the report include:

  • An apparent lack of signed contracts between RTÉ and the barter media agencies used
  • No properly documented policy and procedures for use of the barter account and inadequate record keeping
  • An absence of budgetary reporting for barter account purchases
  • Goods or services acquired through the barter account outside RTÉ standard purchasing and procurement processes
  • No formal list of staff limiting who could make purchases through the barter account
  • No formal list of approvers for purchases

tv licence

The Media Minister on the importance of a TV licence

Speaking about the public’s reaction to the controversy surrounding RTÉ, the Media Minister noted that it has “ultimately found expression in the numbers of people who have decided not to purchase a TV licence”.

While Martin said that the Government “understands the frustration and anger which people feel”, she also stated that not paying for a TV licence is “damaging public service broadcasting for us all”.

She added:

“I again emphasise the importance of paying for a TV licence to continue to support the access to impartial news and current affairs, the provision of drama and light entertainment, broadcasting of sporting events, and access to cultural, educational and factual content.

The interim report (which can be read here) sets out details of what has been assessed by Mazars to date.

Its work is said to be continuing, with a final report expected to be submitted to the Media Minister in October.

Meanwhile, responding to the report, the Chair of the RTÉ Board Siún Ní Raghallaigh wrote:

“I welcome the publication of this interim report today. Regrettably, it is further evidence of the deficiencies in the financial controls and procurement processes in place at RTÉ in the period under examination.

“I have been in ongoing contact with Minister Martin and the Department since these matters emerged and in the meeting with the Minister today, I again assured her that the Board is working assiduously to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to bring the organisation in line with best practice. Several of the issues highlighted to date have already been addressed.

“The process of reform is well underway, and we will continue to work closely with the Director General Kevin Bakhurst and his interim leadership team to restore public confidence in the organisation.”

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