Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Timmy Dooley TD, has said that Government proposals to reform the broadcasting charge will not address the crisis in public service broadcasting.

His comments come following the announcement that the Government will hold off on reforms of the TV licence system for a further five years.

He said, “The Minister’s excuse for delaying the introduction of reforms frankly rings hollow. New technologies will be just as much of an issue five years from now as it is today. This approach is simply an excuse to kick the issue to touch.

“Today’s announcement will do little to solve the current funding crisis in public service broadcasting.

“Across the world, we are watching as co-ordinated efforts to spread fake news is undermining the democratic process. If we as a country are serious about protecting informed decision making and political discussion, we will need to invest in protecting public service journalism.

“Every year, between €35 million and €50 million in licence fees goes uncollected. The future of public service broadcasting could be secured in the large part through this alone. Last year, the BAI asked for an additional €30 million but received only €8.6 million in Budget 2019.

“The Oireachtas Communications Committee has already developed and put forward proposals which would drastically increase collection rates. Fianna Fáil have previously proposed that the increased funds raised should be split between RTÉ and the BAI for distribution to local and regional stations to assist with their public service news and current affairs obligations.

“The Government have chosen not to proceed with these changes. With such a high rate of evasion, this delayed approach is simply the government shying away from what needs to be done and in so doing are undermining citizens’ right to objective and reliable journalism”, he concluded.