Current public service broadcasting model 'not fit for purpose'

Department of Communications is hosting an event considering the future of broadcasting in Ireland

Current public service broadcasting model 'not fit for purpose'

Hildegarde Naughton and Denis Naughten. Image: Sean Defoe

The model for public service broadcasting isn't fit for purpose, according to the Chair of the Dáil's Communications Committee.

They've been tasked with fixing it and deciding if there should be changes to how the licence fee is spread out.

At the moment RTÉ is the sole beneficiary of taxpayers money, with the state broadcaster also able to produce advertising revenue.

This is something many commercial broadcasters believe is unfair, arguing that it ensures there can't be a level playing field.

A forum in Dublin Castle this morning is examining the future of public service broadcasting, with a particular focus on revenue streams.

That's something affecting the whole sector, with RTÉ, Communicorp and the Wireless Group all announcing job cuts this year.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten addressed the value of local radio stations in particular:

"The local news they provide maintains the fabric of rural society. However the changing market place alongside levy payments and the cost of news and current affairs obligations places the longer term viability of some of these services at risk."

Minister Naughten has brought proposals to the committee for a TV licence collection agent in a bid to reduce avoidance rates.

The Fine Gael chairperson of the Communications Committee Hildegarde Naughton said the funding model is a priority for them, and she hopes to have recommendations before the Oireachtas in September.

For local radio stations the fact that the Minister (Roscommon), the committee chair (Galway) and Fianna Fáil's spokesperson Timmy Dooley (Clare) are all rural TDs may be reassuring - as they understand the power of local radio for re-election if nothing else.