Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications Timmy Dooley TD has called on Minister Richard Bruton to spell out whether or not this Government actually supports public service journalism going forward.
His comments come after the Minister for Communications confirmed that he would not be addressing the ongoing funding crisis in RTE. In its annual report for 2018, published in June, RTE reported a net deficit of €13 million.
Deputy Dooley commented, “Fine Gael’s approach to the future of public service broadcasting is deeply disappointing. If the minister believes that it is worth having an Irish public service broadcaster, he needs to engage with the question of what needs to be done to ensure sustainable funding in the long term.
“Instead, he and his Government stick their heads in the sand and kick the can further down the road. The danger of fake news is not some future threat, it is happening now. If we want Ireland to have reliable, independent journalism, we need to get real about how we pay for it.
“Every year, between €35 million and €50 million in licence fees goes uncollected. The future of public service broadcasting could be secured in a large part by dealing with this. The all-party Oireachtas Communications Committee gave the government the political support it needed to introduce changes to the TV licence regime, but the government has failed to implement these changes.
“Minister Bruton has a serious responsibility to the public on this issue. It is time for him to take that responsibility seriously, to state clearly whether or not he supports the principle of independent public service journalism and if so, to spell out how he proposes we as a country pay for it.”