Rabbitte criticises Burton decision to cut fee to RTÉ
Some 410,000 pensioners receive free licence as part of households benefits package
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte criticises decision on TV licence.
A total of 410,000 pensioners receive a free licence as part of the household benefits package. Ms Burton decided to reduce the fee paid to the broadcaster for those licences from €59 million to €54 million without any of the pensioners losing any entitlement.
Mr Rabbitte said yesterday the first he heard of the reduction was at last Sunday night’s Cabinet meeting to finalise individual measures. When asked was he pleased upon hearing the news, he replied: “No.”
“The €5 million I understand in the desperate scrambling around to find savings that had to be made in the Department of Social Protection. As a once-off I can live with it, I hope that RTÉ can live with it.”
His criticism of the decision by his Labour colleague’s department was based on the efforts by his department to ensure broadcasters collect more revenue to fund public service programming into the future.
“It’s a question of joined-up Government thinking. We are in the middle of a revamp of broadcasting policy. We have had the first five-year review from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. There are huge questions that confront the future of public broadcasting.
“The media landscape has changed. The print media is under severe pressure. The regional radio stations are canvassing me to disperse any additional funding that might come in from a transition to the household-based broadcasting charge. So you know, broadcasting can’t be going in one direction on the assumption of additional revenues being brought in by the public service broadcasting charge and while another Department of State seeks to withdraw funding commensurate with that additional amount,” he said.