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Independent broadcasters call for review of RTÉ radio funding

The IBI has called for a “long overdue and comprehensive restructuring” of State-run radio stations as well as the abandonment of the broadcasting levy.

Image: Alan Levine via Creative Commons

THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS to implement radical change to broadcasting regulation in Ireland – including a review of state funding for RTÉ - according to the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI).

Calling for a restructuring of State-run radio stations, IBI Chairman Scott Williams said that while RTÉ Radio currently exists under a public service mandate and receives direct funding from every household in the state, it received more than €31 million in commercial advertising revenue last year. Williams described this situation as “not only against the spirit of RTÉ’s public service mandate but is also grossly anti-competitive”.

“The Programme for Government contains a commitment to review the funding of independent and state-funded broadcasters to ensure a viable broadcasting sector,” he said. “The current licence fee was introduced in Ireland when RTÉ was the only broadcasting entity. Its continued existence confers an unfair advantage on RTÉ and is clearly anti-competitive in a market when all radio stations provide a strong public service dimension”.

The IBI says it is strongly opposed to proposed changes to Ownership and Control Policy outlined by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), which suggests that the cap on ownership be reduced from 25 per cent to 20 percent. Williams insisted there was no need for that provision, as no single broadcaster “holds anywhere near 25 per cent of the market”.

Recently, the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte announced plans to replace the current TV licence fee with a levy for all households in the country. As it stands, all revenue raised by the licence fee goes to RTÉ.

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