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RTÉ no longer relying on Covid scheme to pay staff wages

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Director general Dee Forbes

Director general Dee Forbes

Director general Dee Forbes

RTÉ's financial outlook has improved after it revealed it is no longer relying on an emergency subsidy from the State to prop up wages.

The broadcaster was signed up to the temporary wage subsidy scheme to pay its staff when it was rolled out early in the pandemic.

To qualify for the scheme, an employer had to suffer a 25pc fall in turnover.

However, RTÉ has not availed of its successor - the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) - that requires a sharper drop of 30pc or more in turnover.

A spokesperson confirmed the station has not signed up to the new scheme, which came into force after September 1.

"RTÉ is not availing of the employment wage subsidy scheme," the spokesperson said.

"Like many companies and organisations, RTÉ has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"However, while the organisation continues to face many challenges, the outlook for the remainder of the year has improved, which means RTÉ does not currently meet the EWSS qualification criteria."

Unions

The spokesperson made no comment on whether talks are planned with unions on previously announced cuts, including 200 voluntary redundancies this year.

RTÉ was in difficulty before the coronavirus crisis, recording a deficit of €12.6m in 2018.

Last April, director general Dee Forbes said the pandemic had had a severe impact on the broadcaster's commercial and TV licence revenue.

She forecast that revenue from both sources could collapse by 25pc to 35pc this year.

RTÉ has implemented cuts, including a 10pc pay cut for the executive board, a 15pc cut in fees for its top talent, a pay freeze, curbs on hiring and deferred productions.

Other commercial semi-state companies are availing of the wage subsidy scheme.

Between 2,400 and 2,800 Dublin Airport Authority workers are being supported by it.

A Bus Éireann spokesperson said it placed its workers on the temporary wage subsidy scheme due to a collapse in revenue.