Seanad call for debate on funding of public service broadcasting

FG Senator says local stations have significant level of public service content

Senator Paschal Mooney said An Post was “inherently inefficient” in collecting the licence fee.

Senator Paschal Mooney said An Post was “inherently inefficient” in collecting the licence fee.

 

Fine Gael Senator Michael Mullins has called for a Seanad debate on the funding of public service broadcasting.

He said figures showed that 87 per cent of the licence fee, €140 out of the €160, went to RTÉ and TG4. A further 6.6 per cent was allocated to the Sound and Vision Fund, but RTÉ and TG4 received 50 per cent of that, while 6.1 per cent went to An Post as the collection agent.

“A variety of stations provide and transmit programmes that have significant public service content,’’ Mr Mullins said. “We need to look at the current funding model, the very high level of evasion of the television licence fee, and the fact that viewing methods and habits are changing.’’

He asked why “excellent local stations like Galway Bay FM are getting no support whatsoever, despite having a very significant level of public service content’’.

Fianna Fáil Senator Paschal Mooney said he could not understand why politicians, particularly from non-Dublin constituencies, didn’t bang the drum on the issue.

He said the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland had argued that if the licence fee was efficiently collected by An Post, the evasion money, amounting to some €30 million, could go towards providing a fund for local radio stations to provide news, current affairs and sports coverage.

Mr Mooney said An Post was “inherently inefficient’’ in collecting the money.