Changing channel: can RTÉ keep its focus and remain relevant in the digital age?

A glance at RTÉ’s finances is enough to show the national broadcaster is not on a sustainable footing. While this has been the case for the past 20 years, it is now faced with competition from a multiplicity of streaming services. Some argue that it should identify and concentrate on core activities. But what are those core activities?

In 2020, RTÉ posted a €7.9 million surplus for the year. This was exceptional, however, and was due largely to a €30 million reduction in operating costs, as nearly all live sports and other events were cancelled because of the pandemic. In 2019, RTÉ had made a loss of €7.2 million

In January, Moya Doherty laid out in no uncertain terms the “genuinely existential moment” facing public service broadcasting in Ireland.

Citing the increasingly competitive fight for the attention of audiences, the chair of RTÉ referred to satellite television, streaming services, social media platforms, digital advertising, the move away from communal viewing to personal devices, and the growth of political populism driven by online factors.

“These profound shifts outline both the difficulties created for the national ...