Newspapers and radio stations are set to receive new funding to facilitate coverage of courts and local authorities, the Minister for Arts, Culture and Media Catherine Martin has said.
Speaking in New York she said funding for the initiative could come next year on an interim basis before a new long-term strategy for financing RTÉ and other public service media came into effect.
The Minister said the Government had decided last year – pending an analysis of alternatives – not to accept the key recommendation of the commission on the future of media that public service media should be funded from central exchequer funds rather than from the current system of a TV licence.
However she said all options should now be on the table “because of the change in circumstances”.
“While all models have their advantages and challenges and various people have different opinions – and that is for us to discuss – I think no one has disagreed with having all options on the table.”
The Minister said that when the long-term funding model was decided, it was envisaged that “there would be something there for the wider media too”.
She said the Future of Media Commission had recommended six schemes such as court reporting, local democracy and digital transformation that could be supported from a new media fund.
“We have done a lot of engagement with the industry in relation to the local democracy and court reporting. We would actually be in a position to launch those next year, even before the long-term funding model. "
The Minister said that she had secured €6 million in funding in the budget to get such schemes under way.
Ms Martin said she hoped that Coimisiún na Meán, the regulator of broadcasting and online media in Ireland, would be in a position to make an announcement on this issue on an interim basis in 2024.
She said that ultimately the planned new long-term funding model would support such areas as court reporting and coverage of local authorities.
The Minister also signalled that all staff in RTÉ would have to be treated equally in relation to the terms of any voluntary redundancy scheme on offer and that more generous payments to encourage higher earners to leave the broadcaster were unlikely to be permitted.
She said any new voluntary redundancy scheme for personnel in the national broadcaster would have to receive the approval of both her department and the Department of Public Expenditure.
“I would envisage equality and fairness would have to be [included in the scheme] for all staff [and] that all staff are treated equally. "
“The same terms and conditions would have to apply regardless of grade, seniority or salary. So that’s what I would envisage. But we have to engage with RTÉ and they would bring it forward. But that’s what we would expect.”
The Minister said she was in New York on a two-day visit to discuss tourism and cultural issues.
She said that the tourism market from North America was “looking very healthy” with new flights to Ireland from Minneapolis St Paul and Denver.
Ms Martin also on Monday officially opened an exhibition at UN headquarters on Ireland at the League of Nations 1923-1946.
She said it told the story “of how a young, fledging state, geographically at the periphery of Europe, found its feet among the nations of the world”.
“Joining the League provided the new state with a vehicle in which it could emerge from the shadow of Britain and create its own distinctive voice on the world stage.”
“The League of Nations – often referred to as the ‘predecessor of the United Nations’ – was the first inter-governmental organisation established to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security. "
“Membership of the League was highly significant to Ireland as a foreign policy goal. It shaped how we developed our place, our standing, in the world in the 1920s and 1930s.”
The Minister said that Ireland remained “deeply committed to the principles and values enshrined in the United Nations Charter and a strong and fair rules-based multilateral order with the United Nations at its core”.
“This is demonstrated on many levels. No less by our most recent engagement on the situation in the Middle East where we have consistently called for a peaceful resolution, a cessation of all hostilities and the release of all hostages. "
Ms Martin said Ireland welcomed the UN Security Council resolution which called for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in connection with the catastrophic humanitarian situation unfolding in the Gaza Strip”.
“Although we recognise the need for reform of the Security Council, the value of the work of the United Nations as a whole cannot be underestimated. Programmes such as the UNRWA, the World Food Programme and the UNHCR, for example, are essential lifelines for millions of vulnerable and innocent people throughout the world, many of whom are caught up in conflict situations.”