Un-Fair City | 

RTÉ bosses cut Fair City from four to three episodes per week

Summer Show with Derek Mooney and Nuala Carey gone, while Young Offenders and The Money Show deferred

RTE cuts set to hit favourite shows including Fair City

Seoirse Mulgrew and Fionnán Sheahan

Fair City has become one of the first casualties of the cutbacks at RTÉ.

The gossip in Donnybrook was that the Carrigstown soap opera was facing a move to an external production company – or even being dropped completely.

After the softening-up exercise of looming cutbacks, the latest plot twist was revealed.

The goings-on around McCoy’s bar will be cut from four nights per week to three from the new year. RTÉ will continue to produce four episodes per week but will air three. The spare episode per week will allow a summer break in production without the soap stopping.

RTÉ has announced a range of cost-cutting measures in order to reduce expenditure planned for next year. The national broadcaster said it will implement a minimum of €10m in cuts in an effort to control costs.

A batch of shows will be hit by the cutbacks, but there is no mention yet of where outsourcing to private production companies will happen.

The Tommy Tiernan Show will survive and is to return in January, but the broadcaster is cutting Saturday night entertainment during the summer.

RTÉ had not yet announced an in-house Saturday evening entertainment show due to air in the spring and summer. This year’s programme was The Summer Show, presented by Derek Mooney and Nuala Carey. The production budget for this show and another series that had been planned have now been cut.

RTÉ’s in-house Sunday evening summer factual programming will also not be produced in 2024. Production of a third season of The Money List will be deferred until 2025, while a second season, produced in 2023, will air in 2024.

The transmission of Young Offenders will also be deferred until 2025.

The budget for programmes to be bought will be reduced in 2024, with more savings from production in news, current affairs, and sport.

The cutbacks follow the announcement last month of a new plan to reduce the staff at RTÉ by 400 – removing one in five workers, through retirements and redundancies.

The plan is in response to the RTÉ payments scandal, which now looks set to cost the broadcaster €61m in lost television licence revenue. The Government has announced €40m in interim funding for the broadcaster in 2024, subject to the implementation of further reforms.

RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst stated that next year will be a “challenging year and one in which we will have to manage our cost base carefully”.

“These deferrals of production and transmission, along with reduced production budgets, are hard choices,” he said. “However, they will not only assist us in achieving the required savings, but allow for proactive cost and resource management in the delivery of essential special events in 2024.”

Mr Bakhurst said the temporary reductions and deferrals were intended to “maintain and preserve RTÉ’s schedules and public service delivery as much as possible”.

“With the launch of the new direction outline plan, my hope, as I have said before, is that we will enter 2025 armed with a robust strategy that makes the best use of the monies available to fund our national media service,” he said.

“[These are] monies we will invest as wisely and strategically as possible to improve the invaluable contribution of public service media to life in Ireland.

“Those monies, of course, depend upon a decision on the future sustainable funding of public service media in Ireland.”

RTÉ says overall running costs will rise in 2024 due to a number of special events and other inflationary pressures.

“Therefore with a continued decline in sales of TV licences and with commercial revenue projected to be broadly level year-on-year, RTÉ must implement a range of cuts to planned expenditure.”

Initially, RTÉ will implement a minimum of €10m in cuts to 2024 expenditure. These will include cuts to and deferrals of content, plus a voluntary exit programme, to deliver a headcount reduction of 40.

“This will be funded by the 2017 land sale proceeds,” the statement added.

“The freeze on recruitment, maintaining tight controls on discretionary spend, the postponement of a range of capital and strategic projects, including the postponement of a planned brand refresh, and the postponement of planned podcasting and short-form content units.”

The land sale proceeds referred to are the funds from the sale of just under nine acres of land at its Donnybrook campus in Dublin to Cairn Homes for €107.5m.

RTÉ has ruled out moving from its campus in Donnybrook but is looking at the sale of additional lands adjoining the previous site.

A complete sale of the campus would only yield about €100m, due to the number of listed buildings on the site.

Today's Headlines

More TV

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos