RTÉ is dual funded through a proportion of television licence fee receipts and the commercial revenue it generates. TG4 is funded by way of a combination of direct Exchequer grant-in-aid, television licence fee receipts and commercial revenue. The broadcasting sector continues to face very serious commercial, structural and market challenges, including, in recent years, a substantial fall in advertising revenues of over 40%. For example, RTÉ now earns less in commercial income than it did in 2008.
RTÉ has responded to this contraction in revenue by cutting operational costs and implementing major organisational restructuring. Despite these measures, in 2016, RTÉ had a deficit of €19.7 million. RTÉ remains in a very difficult financial position and further deficits are predicted. TG4 also posted a small deficit for this period, and has done so for several years.
I am very much aware of the challenges that face the existing TV licence system, including the current level of evasion which is estimated to be 14.6%. While the rate has fallen from 15.3% at the end of 2013, it is still very high and equates to a loss of €40 million annually to public service broadcasting.
To address this issue, my Department has been working with An Post and RTÉ on an ongoing basis to ensure that the TV licence collection system is working as effectively as possible. Measures such as marketing campaigns, more evening and weekend inspection and appointment of additional temporary inspectors are just some of the initiatives that have been utilised to enhance sales and improve compliance rates.
As the Deputy will be aware, I obtained Government approval last year to draft a number of legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Act 2009, including amendments for the tendering of the TV licence fee collection. The proposed amendments are under pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, and I look forward to receiving the committee's report on the matter.
As the Deputy is also aware, I requested the committee to examine the longer-term issue of the future funding of public service media. The committee published its report at the end of November 2017 and I intend to bring the matter to Government shortly.