Broadcasters welcome draft Independent Radio Stations Bill as 'major breakthrough'

The bill is looking to establish a new scheme with support from the TV license fee

Broadcasters welcome draft Independent Radio Stations Bill as 'major breakthrough'

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The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) have welcomed the publication of draft broadcasting legislation as a "major breakthrough" in long overdue reform in Irish broadcasting.

The IBI represents Ireland's 34 local, regional and national independent radio stations.

The proposed legislation from Fianna Fáil acknowledges the public service role played by independent radio, and takes steps to establish a new scheme to financially underpin this public service role with support from the TV license fee.

John Purcell, chairman of the IBI, says: "The publication of this bill is hugely significant as it explicitly recognises the public service role of independent radio and the critical importance of this role to Irish society.

"While listenership to independent radio remains consistently strong with literally millions of people tuning in every day, the financial pressure on broadcasting organisations providing these services is growing at an alarming rate and without urgent legislative action, it will not be able to sustain the level of public service content provided by our stations in our news, current affairs and information programming which is so beloved of Irish radio listeners".

The IBI say the proposed legislation is recognition of the "critical situation" faced by independent broadcasters, and outlines some of the practical ways the Government can ensure that the radio which is enjoyed by the majority of Irish people can survive.

The proposed measures strengthen calls for significant and far-reaching reform of the current TV license regime.

Mr Purcell adds: "We have been raising the issues and suggesting practical measures which legislators can take to preserve Irish broadcasting for years.

"It is heartening to see draft legislation which we hope will provide the basis for discussion with politicians of all parties about meaningful support for quality broadcasting.

"However, there is no room for complacency and no time to waste in progressing solutions.

"It is imperative that the Dáil takes steps to ensure that a package of measures to support independent broadcasters is enacted without delay."