herald

Friday 15 December 2017

RTE spend over €270k covering State visit to UK

RTE spent a total of just over €273,560 to cover the State visit of President Michael D Higgins to Britain in April this year.

The spending is the equivalent of €39,080 a day for the period of the trip between April 6 and 12, according to documents released to the Herald under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

A total of 48 staff members were sent by the national broadcaster from Dublin to cover Mr Higgins's historic trip to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

The broadcaster originally estimated that the cost to its news and current affairs division for the trip was around €120,000.

But it has emerged that the total cost for news and current affairs reached €175,481, while the cost incurred by the television division was €88,000 and radio division was €12,079.

TRAVEL

The travel costs for the trip amounted to €37,537. These costs included flights, ferries, taxis, trains and car costs.

Accommodation and subsistence amounted to €33,339, which included hotel rooms for staff. But by far the greatest expense was hiring equipment and paying the costs associated with outside broadcasts.

In total, the cost, which included hiring contractors, reached €202,683.

RTE said that a "core team of 30 people" travelled from across the organisation to provide coverage across platforms - television, radio online and mobile - in Irish and English.

And 18 "supplementary staff" travelled at various different periods of two days or less to provide additional coverage.

"The widespread public interest in the historic State visit by the President to the UK was reflected in the significant audiences turning to RTE for coverage and analysis of the occasion," RTE said.

"RTE offered audiences, both at home and abroad, a range of special programmes in addition to detailed news coverage of the first State visit by an Irish head of state to the UK," it added.

According to RTE, more than 1.3 million people tuned in to the range of television programmes broadcast during the week.

Each day that week, the 9pm news was co-presented by Eileen Dunne, from Windsor Caste.

The broadcaster said that there was a "significant" unilateral satellite cost of around €30,000 added to the news and current affairs figure, due to increased space capacity required to facilitate HD live coverage of the events.

And it said that a substantial amount of the costs to RTE's news and current affairs department related to hiring staff and equipment for outside broadcasting on television and radio of live events. The broadcaster pooled its resources with British broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and SKY.

hnews@herald.ie

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