RTE boss vows station will 'bounce back' after Six Nations TV3 blow
RTE is preparing a war chest to defend critical sports coverage rights amid an onslaught by TV3, Sky and UTV in an increasingly bitter battle for TV viewers.
The move came after Montrose bosses were left stunned by the loss of Six Nations rugby championship coverage rights to TV3.
However, RTE's managing director of TV, Glen Killane, last night vowed that the State broadcaster "will be resilient and will bounce-back".
TV3 secured the Six Nations from 2018 after clinching a deal estimated at €10m.
RTE now has over two years to prepare their response with the funds expected to be ring-fenced for other sports coverage.
Sky confirmed they will now be broadcasting live Premiership matches in Ireland on Saturdays while UTV is hoping to expand their GAA coverage over the coming years.
Mr Killane said it is not the first disappointment RTE has suffered, but he promised the station will maintain the quality sports programming for which it has become renowned.
"We are very proud of our sports coverage and we have built up great relationships with sports bodies in Ireland and overseas," he said.
"For instance, we have a wonderful relationship with the GAA stretching back almost 80 years and that is something we are very proud of.
"RTE is very closely linked with Gaelic games, and that is something we intend to maintain and develop."
Mr Killane, a former Head of Sport, said RTE has a strong relationship with the FAI.
"We will be broadcasting both the forthcoming play-off matches between Ireland and Bosnia for the Uefa European Championship finals next year," he added.
"We will also be broadcasting the European Championship finals next summer. RTE is justifiably proud of its sports coverage and will continue to do everything to bring the best possible coverage of Irish interest to our viewers."
His comments came as national broadcasters around Europe, including the BBC, increasingly struggle to cope with the financial might of giant commercial stations in bidding for strategic sports coverage rights.
However, TV3 boss David McRedmond said it was a hugely exciting development for the Irish station particularly after the success of their Rugby World Cup coverage.
"We believe coverage was comparable with the best broadcasters anywhere, particularly broadcasters who do not get a State subsidy," he said.
The TV3 boss pointed out that they broadcast 48 matches last month - almost four times what RTE had broadcast for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.