Sport next on the hit-list as RTE continue penny-pinching measures
RTE are facing losing their right to broadcast a wide range of sporting events as their efforts to drastically rein in spending continue apace.
Fresh from the news that some of the station’s brightest ‘stars’ will be forced to take salary cuts of 30 per cent, it has emerged that the station’s coverage of various sporting events will be next to face the axe.
According to a report in today’s Irish Independent, RTE Director General Noel Curran is seeking a 25 per cent reduction in spending on sport rights as the station tries to achieve a €25 million reduction in costs across the board.
As a result, RTE’s coverage of events such as the GAA Championships and Champions League football could be affected when they come up for renegotiation two years from now.
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, group head of sport at the station Ryle Nugent – renowned, of course, for his Tommy Booooooowe pronunciation every time the Ulster-bound winger scores try – said: "Is it possible, three years from now, we will have the same portfolio of sports events? Yes.
“Is there the potential to lose one or two? I'd say, yes, there is definitely potential.
"It is no secret RTE lost the Heineken Cup highlights, walked away from professional boxing, was unable to broadcast the basketball this year and we weren't able to bid for the Ireland and Italy soccer match last year. We have had to make strategic decisions already and there are more to come," he added.
With RTE struggling to pay the bills, there is room for the likes of TV3 and Setanta to muscle in on sporting events that would pique the interest of Irish viewers. TV3’s coverage of GAA has increased in recent years, while they also broadcast Champions League and Europa League football.
Asked whether TV3 would be attempting to shove RTE aside in the sporting stakes last night, however, a TV3 spokesman didn’t offer much in the way of elaboration.
"We've an excellent working relationship with RTE and have since the establishment of both RTE radio and TV. If RTE have issues to raise with us I'm sure they'll do so in due course," the spokesman said.
Irish people used to a staple diet of RTE coverage of sporting events may be concerned by the news, even though there are some broadcasters and pundits – Pat Spillane and George Hook would probably head the queue – that many wouldn’t be distraught to see the back of.
By God, if they’ve to get rid of national treasures like Billo or Michael Lyster, however, there’ll be hell to pay.