Free RTE Website Is 'Unfair Competition'

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Byline: Hannah-Louise Dunne Showbusiness Editor

NATIONAL newspaper bosses have accused RTE of unfair competition over its website.

RTE, which is majority funded by the [euro]160-ahousehold licence fee, spends money on a free-to-use website that hosts moneygenerating spin-offs such as RTE Motors, which links to a car-dealership site, and RTE Dating - which links to a dating site.

The National Newspapers Ireland trade body, of which the Irish Daily Mail is a member, says RTE has an unfair commercial advantage over its rivals in the print media.

It said RTE can use web programmes funded by public money to generate extra money from online advertisers.

NNI members have to run as independent commercial enterprises and fund their own websites yet it says RTE is spending public money on a website that competes with the national press for advertising revenue.

Frank Cullen, NNI co-ordinating director, called on the Government to take action to curb RTE's commercial power on the web.

He also called on Government to ensure the station's online activities do not stray from its public-service remit.

'This is not an RTE-bashing day. I've huge respect for RTE and the work that they do,' Mr Cullen said.

'All we're looking for is fairness - as a national broadcaster it's obviously acceptable that RTE operate online, but its activities should be limited to their public service remit.' Mr Cullen said the station boasts an unfair advantage over newspapers online - as it can offer advertisers a unique cross-media publicity opportunity - with its publicly funded and commercial endeavours. …