The BAI Review of Funding for Public Service Broadcasting is a whitewash, fails to recognise the value of public service content on independent radio stations and is throwing good money after bad in suggesting additional funding should be provided to RTÉ – a station which is losing millions every year through inefficiencies and inflated salaries for its presenters”, said John Purcell, Chairman of the Independent Broadcasting of Ireland.
“It is outrageous that taxpayers money has been spent on a Report that Minister Rabbitte claims ‘looks at the entire broadcasting landscape’ but which does so only through the blinkered view of RTÉ and its Government owner. The funding model proposed is in effect a “Montrose Tax” which will prop up RTÉ and effectively destroy the diverse broadcasting sector of which Ireland can be justifiably proud and which employs over 1500 people in counties throughout Ireland”, he said.
“We firmly believe that it is possible to ‘square the circle’ and develop a funding model that works for RTE, the Independent Broadcasters in Ireland and, most importantly, the public. We have been working hard with the Minister, the BAI and indeed RTÉ to achieve this aim but it is clear that our proposals are falling on deaf ears. It is regrettable that the very real opportunity to fund a diverse and healthy public broadcasting sector has been spurned.
“The attitude of the Minister and the BAI is all the more remarkable given that the Minister has publicly recognised the Public Service Content broadcast by Independent Radio Stations and its importance to the communities in which we operate”, said Mr. Purcell.
John Purcell said that Minister Rabbitte’s argument that the Broadcasting Act of 2009 imposes specific public service obligations on RTÉ which are not imposed on the commercial sector is misinformed. The same Broadcasting Act requires Independent Broadcasters to broadcast a set percentage of public service programming under their licence agreements.
“I want to be very clear here. We are not against RTÉ being properly funded, but we will not acquiesce to our members being disadvantaged as a result. The proposals as presented are inequitable and do nothing to nourish and enhance the broad Irish media radio scape. Public service broadcasting needs to be determined by the content that is broadcast, not by the organisation who broadcasts it. We will be taking up the Minister on his public declaration that he is willing to tease out the issues involved and will be looking to redress the imbalance so clearly evident in this report.”