Independent producers and TG4 on track for content-levy boost

Minister for Media Catherine Martin has introduced several amendments to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill

Independent production companies will receive “not less than 80 per cent” of the funds generated by the Government’s proposed content levy on streaming services and broadcasters operating in the Irish market, while at least 25 per cent of the money raised will be used to make programmes in the Irish language.

Minister for Media Catherine Martin has introduced a number of amendments to the Government’s sweeping Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2022, which reaches its report and final stages in the Dáil on Wednesday.

The legislation will formally establish the Media Commission, to be known as Coimisiún na Meán, as a successor to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the addition of an extensive new role regulating online content.

Several of the Minister’s amendments relate to the operation of the mooted content levy, sometimes referred to as the “Netflix levy”, with State development agency Screen Ireland (Fís Éireann) given a role in the distribution of funds in partnership with the commission.


“The commission, following consultation with Fís Éireann, may prepare a scheme for funds to be granted, out of the proceeds of any levy,” one amendment reads.

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The aim of the content levy is to guarantee a certain level of production funding for Irish television and films in a globalised entertainment market. Another new amendment indicates that the funds may also be used at the development stage of a project when financial support often proves elusive for writers, directors and producers.

The amendment guaranteeing that the majority of the funds will be allocated to independent producers is expected to significantly boost the Irish screen industry, while the Irish language content stipulation will provide a valuable new funding stream to TG4.

Coimisiún na Meán may also “have regard” to whether the independent producer has retained any ownership of the intellectual property rights to a programme when making funding decisions. Streamers typically buy up all the rights from independent producers, meaning producers receive a one-off fee but don’t benefit from future overseas programme sales.

Funding of €25m annually

While representatives of the Irish screen industry have estimated that a levy of 3 per cent on annual revenue could generate annual funds of €25 million for the sector, the manner in which the content levy will be applied is not yet known, nor is it certain that it will be introduced.

Coimisiún na Meán is scheduled to be up and running in February 2023, with an executive chairperson of the commission, an online safety commissioner, a broadcast commissioner and a media development commissioner all in place. The regulator is then expected to complete a report on the viability of the proposed content levy, which the Minister might or might not approve.

Such levies have been permitted since the 2018 revision to the European Union’s audiovisual media services directive and several European member states have already introduced them.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics