RTÉ spent over £200,000 on President Higgins' State Visit to Britain

RTÉ spent over £200,000 on President Higgins' State Visit to Britain

RTÉ spent more than £200,000 on its coverage of the State Visit to Britain by President Michael D Higgins, official documents reveal.

With a total of 48 staff sent across the Irish Sea for the four-day occasion, the broadcaster ran up bills of almost £31,000 per day between April 6 and 12 this year.

Freedom of Information documents show that RTÉ far exceeded its initial estimate of £95,000 (€120,000) for the cost of the trip to its news and current affairs department.

The final bill for the event came to £216,000 (€273,560), with around £140,000 spent by the news and current affairs department. The cost incurred by the television division was just under £70,000 and £9,500 was spent by the radio division.

Travel costs for the trip were around £30,000, while accommodation and subsistence accounted for £26,000.

Equipment hire and other costs associated with outside broadcasting were by far the most expensive part of its coverage, reaching £160,000 in total.

RTÉ said that a “core team” of 30 travelled to London to manage its coverage of the state visit across television, radio, online and mobile. A further 18 “supplementary staff” also made the trip for various different periods of two days or less.

The broadcaster said more than 1.3million people viewed its television coverage during the week.

"The widespread public interest in the historic state visit by the President to the UK was reflected in the significant audiences turning to RTÉ for coverage and analysis of the occasion," an RTÉ spokesperson added.

"RTÉ 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.”

RTÉ pointed out that it pooled its coverage for free with other media outlets, including The Irish Post, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times.