31 August 2019
By Bryan Smyth
Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has said that local community radio will be supported under new measures announced by the Government.
Senator Lombard, member of the Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said: “My colleague Minister Richard Bruton has published the Broadcasting Bill which includes a number of measures to support local community radio, reducing the levies placed on independent broadcasters.
“The Minister also announced changes to how the TV licence fee will be collected now and into the future and a review of the Broadcasting Act.
“Under the legislation the broadcasting levy will be reduced for all broadcasters and some community broadcasters will be exempt entirely. It also allows for the creation of a new funding scheme that would allow the granting of bursaries to journalists in local or community radio stations.
“Here in Cork we know the importance of local radio journalism, keeping us up to date on local issues and delving into the matters that are crucial to our community. The value added by local journalism cannot be underestimated and I am delighted to welcome this initiative.”
Minister Bruton said: “Public service broadcasting is more important now than ever. Independent, objective reporting of domestic and international affairs is crucial. However, we must recognise that the landscape in which broadcasters operate is undergoing a transformation and that this gives rise to new challenges.”
Senator Lombard continued: “The Minister has also announced that the Government will accept the recommendations of the Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting and will be putting the collection of the TV licence fee out to public tender later this year.
“The Government has also agreed that at the end of the five-year contract period, the licence fee should be replaced by a device independent broadcasting charge which takes account of technological change and will enable the sustainable funding of public service content in the longer term. It is estimated that 10% of homes access content on alternative devices which do not require a television licence.
“It is important to note that the current provision of free TV licences to those in receipt of the Household Benefits Package will continue and the option of purchasing TV licences at post offices will remain regardless of who the successful awardee of the contract is.
“Another welcome aspect of the measures announced by Minister Bruton is an evaluation of the proportion of the T.V. licence revenue which is allocated to the Sound and Vision Scheme which supports the independent sector and native Irish content.
“The review will also consider the minimum amount of funding that RTE is obliged to spend on commissioning external content.”