Friday 19 January 2018

Fare City: RTE spent almost €1.4k-a-day on taxis last year

RTE chairperson Moya Doherty
RTE chairperson Moya Doherty

RTE spent almost €1,400 on taxis every day in 2015, ferrying staff and contributors to and from various TV and radio shows, the Herald can reveal.

Last year the national broadcaster clocked up a taxi bill of €494,000, which was the equivalent of €1,353 a day.

This is an increase of nearly €70,000 on 2014, when its taxi bill for fares in the capital and outside of Dublin came to a total of €424,177 or €1,162-a-day.

It's also up a significant €121,488 from 2013, when RTE's annual spend on taxis was €372,512, which works out at €1,020 daily.

The figures supplied under the Freedom of Information Act include both the taxi companies used by RTE as well as instances where individuals book cabs privately and then claim back the expense of the trip.

When asked to account for the rise in spending over the past three years, an RTE spokesman said that due to the comprehensive nature of RTE operations, they have to use taxis for the "vast range of contributors" across its TV and radio schedules.

It cited the areas of news and current affairs alongside sport and entertainment programming.

He added that some events that took place during 2015, such as Road to the Rising, was in preparation for the "exceptional level of programming in 2016".

This included RTE's centenary programme of content and events, the General Election, the European Championships, the Olympic Games and the Paralympics.

RTE's policy on travel expenses required that taxis were only used by staff when necessary for business reasons, the statement added.

The station was unable to provide details of how much each individual department spent on taxis.

When asked why not, an RTE spokesperson said: "Taxi expenses are monitored as part of RTE's internal management control processes. However, this information is not shared externally."

The spokesperson added that, as confirmed in RTE's annual report for 2015, the station aired over 4,710 hours of home-produced programming in 2015.

Its radio department also transmitted over 35,000 hours of programming last year, with more than a million listeners tuning in to Radio 1 every week.


The State broadcaster said that under RTE policy, taxis should only be used "exceptionally", where public transport is not an option.

"The sharing of taxis is an essential and accepted feature of the system," he said.

"Staff are also expected to make their own arrangements for travel to and from their workplace."

Its annual report recently revealed that RTE has a deficit of €2.8m for 2015 as costs rose by more than its revenues.

Total revenue rose €6.1m or 1.9pc to €334.3m. However, operating costs rose by €8.4m to €320.3m as RTE took on more staff.

In comparison, its licence fee revenue only rose by €300,000, bringing it to a total of €178.9m.

Separately, RTE believes that up 500 homes could be developed on a portion of its Donnybrook site, which is being prepared for sale.

However, the Sunday Independent reported that the plan has run into an obstacl, with the National Transport Authority objecting to a new junction on the Stillorgan Road that would facilitate access to both RTE and the proposed development.

The site at Donnybrook has long been viewed as the organisation's financial trump card and earlier this year, the board, chaired by Moya Doherty, voted to sell part of the site in early 2017. The sale of the land could net the broadcaster around €50m.

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