Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív this afternoon launched the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2012, which aims to ensure value for money, greater protection for citizens, more sustainable financing for Public Service Broadcasting and proper recognition of local independent radio.
The Bill also caters for open access for the diaspora to Irish Public Service Broadcasting and a reduction in the annual licence fee by 15%.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “The Bill is based on Fianna Fáil's solid and unwavering commitment to Public Service Broadcasting in this country and the need for greater sustainability in the sector. It will update the definition of Public Service Broadcasting in Ireland and bring new creativity to how public funds are spent on broadcasting.
“Fianna Fáil acknowledges the changing nature of media and the anachronistic nature of a licence fee based on a television set in the corner of a room. With television and radio services now available on smart phones and other mobile devices, the existing arrangements are no longer fit for purpose. We are committed to ensuring that any extra revenue received by redefining the “licence” should be used to redress the cost to the hard pressed consumer. By doing so, those who are currently subsidising the minority who refuse to pay the existing rate, would see the cost of a licence reduced from €160 to €135. Minister Pat Rabbitte, who has spoken about plans to introduce a universal charge, has so far failed to state whether he will cap the volume of revenue being raised in such a move.
“In light of recent controversies, there have been questions raised about the standards of Public Service Broadcasting in Ireland. This Bill seeks to introduce measures aimed at restoring citizens' confidence in broadcasting. One such measure is the provision requiring broadcasters to provide interviewees with an unedited copy of any pre-recorded interviews, after broadcasting, which the interviewee is permitted to publish as they see fit. In an age of 'citizen journalism', it moves to restore some influence to the citizen in the balance of power with national broadcasters.
“Another major feature of the Bill is recognising the critical role that local radio plays in Public Service Broadcasting. In many areas of the country, citizens' news and current affairs comes from their local station, rather than any national broadcasters. The Bill provides that 8% of state funding will be made available for commercial local radio stations for the production of public service material.
"I thank my colleagues in Fianna Fáil for their input into this legislation. It is offered as a serious and considered contribution to the debate about the future of media in our country and I would ask all those with an interest in maintaining a strong Irish media sector to give it proper consideration."
The Bill will be moved in the Dáil next Tuesday 10th July 2012.