The chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), the organisation representing Ireland’s 34 independent radio stations, has cautiously welcomed the planned establishment of a Commission on the Future Funding of Irish Public Service Broadcasting, but says that RTÉ is not the only medium producing public service broadcasting (PSB).
The Commission announced by Minister for Communications Richard Bruton TD is tasked with examining how public service broadcasting can be funded in a sustainable and secure manner while still ensuring independence and value for money. IBI chairman John Purcell said the new commission must recognise the reality in Irish media.
Purcell said the commission’s remit needs to look beyond RTÉ and focus on the future of all broadcasters with a statutory public service remit. Independent stations carry onerous public service obligations as part of their contracts. It covers news, current affairs, Irish language programming, farming and business and sports coverage.
Given that 70 per cent of radio listeners tune into independent stations every day, the new commission cannot ignore the public service contribution of these stations. For too long Government policy has been guided by a narrow view which sees RTÉ as the only public service broadcaster. It is not correct in principle or in practice, Purcell added.