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Jobs will be lost in local radio if BAI Budget is approved

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) have strongly criticized the Broadcasting Authority (BAI) for seeking an “excessive increase in its budget” and Minister Eamonn Ryan “for effectively underwriting over 27% of an increase at a time when public sector organizations are being asked to cut costs and are under staff embargos”.

Anger among Chief Executives of Independent Radio Stations at a meeting to discuss the issue was unprecedented and IBI members are very disillusioned with the Minister according to one source. “There is a sense that we are seeing another ‘Ryanair Hanger 6’ situation where jobs will be lost as a result of a Minister sitting back and doing nothing”, said Willie O’Reilly, chairman of the IBI.

“The BAI budget for 2010 is an estimated €7.6 million up from €5.2 in 2009. This is an exploding cost base that is utterly unjustifiable. Minister Ryan’s washing his hands of this issue is in stark contrast to his assurances about the cost of future regulation when the legislation which established the BAI was being debated”, said O’Reilly.

The meeting heard some independent radio stations have experienced loss in revenues of up to 30% and they are fearful that if the BAI budget increase is approved by the Minister, redundancies will arise in the sector as a result. “The minimum levy bill will be in the region of €90,000 which is a significant cost burden. Something has got to give and inevitably it will be jobs and the quality of radio programmes produced”, said O’Reilly. “The BAI have been allowed to launch a smash and grab on broadcasters, to fund platinum plated regulation, without any obligation to submit their own budget to scrutiny”.

“IBI members accept the principle of a levy. What we will not accept is the BAI looking for a huge increase in budget so that it has a high base from which to set its budget in 2010. We can’t allow a levy that is disproportionate, unnecessary and undermining of Irish broadcasting and Irish audiences alike.”

Willie O’Reilly called on Minister Eamon Ryan to exercise the functions that the Broadcasting Act intended he perform. “The Minister has a responsibility to ensure that broadcasting is supported and not scuppered.”

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Further information:
Lisa Ni Choisdealbha, Independent Broadcasters of Ireland: 087-2038956
Laurie Mannix MKC Communications: (01) 7038600

About the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) is the representative body for Ireland’s independent commercial radio broadcasters. The mission of the IBI is to champion the agenda of independent broadcasters in Ireland and to be a distinct and coherent national voice in the ongoing campaign for competitive equality across the sector.

The independent voice of Ireland, 64.5% of the population tune into independent radio on a daily basis. This translates into weekday figures of 2.473 million listeners. With more than 1500 people employed in the sector, independent broadcasters make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the Irish economy. The IBI represents 2 national radio stations, 1 multicity radio station, 4 regional radio stations and 27 local radio stations. For more information please visit: www.ibireland.ie.