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IBI calls for new media charge to be used to strengthen independent and public broadcasting in Ireland

Tuesday, 5 April 2011:  The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) has called on the Minister for Communications to seize the opportunity to use the new public broadcasting charge on Irish households to strengthen and develop both independent and public broadcasting in Ireland.
Mr. Scott Williams, Chairman of IBI said;   “Every household has at least one radio and nearly every person has the ability to listen to radio on their mobile phone, laptop, computer, ipad, and so on.  Given the number of radio devices in each home, we believe that the Public Broadcasting Charge (PBC) set out in the Programme for Government and which will be levied on all households, must be used to strengthen and develop all forms of broadcasting in Ireland”.
“The TV licence fee has provided an unfair competitive advantage to RTE. With more than 1500 people employed in the sector independent broadcasters make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the Irish Economy.  The replacement of the licence fee with a new PBC provides a unique opportunity to the Minister for Communications to create a more competitive broadcasting landscape”, he said.
According to Mr. Williams, a portion of the proposed PBC should be used to help fund the operations of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.  “IBI recognises the importance of a properly funded regulator, but given the financial pressures on so many broadcasters, the PBC must be used to help fund the regulation of the entire sector”, he said.
“I also believe that the PBC should be used to fund a fully public-service focused radio station on RTE Radio 1  Radio 1 should be given sufficient funding from the PBC to allow it to operate without the need for commercial funding.
“In return, it would be obligated to produce high quality programming which is strictly public service.  This would ensure RTE’s independence and enable it to become the pinnacle of public service broadcasting”. The current regime where RTE is dependent upon a mix of licence fee and advertising revenue is unfair to all.  The financial health of the entire broadcasting sector would be greatly enhanced if RTE were less reliant on commercial advertising. It would allow commercial stations compete more effectively for advertising revenues”.
He said that the Public Broadcasting Charge should “raise sufficient funds to achieve these joint aims of funding the BAI and creating a world class public broadcasting service while enabling commercial radio stations to compete on a level playing field”.
The IBI Annual Conference was sponsored by the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) and was attended by over 100 independent radio broadcasters, managers and station owners.   Speakers at today’s event included; Peter McPartlin from Carat Ireland Duncan McKie – President, Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR), Shain Shapiro – UK and Europe, Canadian Independent Music Association Peter Stone, Riviera Media Group, and Sean Gallagher, Speaker and Dragon’s Den panelist.

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