RTÉ faces the prospect of losing an additional €10m next year to TG4 which will add to the deficit of €68m which the state broadcaster has recorded this year.

The '20 year Strategy for the Irish Language', produced by Gaeltacht minister Eamon Ó Cúiv last week, states that there "should be an increase in the allocation of licence fee income from RTÉ to the broadcast fund (from 5% to 7%), of which TG4 is a main beneficiary."

Last week, minister Ó Cúiv said the 20-year strategy to increase the use and knowledge of Irish had been formally sanctioned by the government and is therefore policy.

The move to reallocate some of the annual €200m licence fee income away from RTÉ to TG4 had already been suggested by economist Colm McCarthy in the Bord Snip Nua report.

McCarthy recommended that the €38m allocation directly from the department of communications to TG4 be reduced by €10m and that the shortfall be made up by redirecting €10m from the licence fee to TG4.

Though this will make no difference to TG4, it will cut an even deeper hole in RTÉ's perilous financial situation.

Earlier this year staff agreed to take a wage cut as RTÉ headed for a €68m deficit.

Last month, management said that while losses have not worsened, there was no significant improvement in sight either.

Management told news and current affairs staff last week that a further €1m in productivity improvements were needed.

The move also comes even though TG4 has an audience share of just 2.5% – a tenth of the 25% share enjoyed by RTÉ One and trailing the English channels BBC 1, BBC 2, UTV, Channel 4 and the same as Sky One.