To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the reduction in spend from RTÉ to the Irish independent production sector (details supplied); the steps he is taking to ensure that this spend in the sector is increased back to 2007 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Section 116 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 provides that RTÉ make specific amounts available each year for the commissioning of television and radio programmes from the independent production sector. The statutory minimum amount for 2009 was €40m, and for subsequent years, the Act provides that the statutory minimum amount varies in line with the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI).
I am very much aware of the challenges that face the existing TV Licence system, including the current unacceptable levels of evasion. While the rate has fallen from 15.3% at the end of 2013 to the current rate of 14.1%, it is still very high.
Government approval was obtained to draft a number of legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Act 2009, including amendments for the tendering of TV Licence fee collection.
The proposed amendments were considered under Pre-Legislative Scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action & Environment and their report was received on March 8th. The Bill is currently being drafted by Parliamentary Counsel and is included as a priority on the Government's Legislative Programme.
The Committee were requested to examine the longer term issue of the future funding of public service media and the Committee published their report at the end of November 2017. Following consideration of the recommendations made in that report, Government approval was received in July 2018 to establish a Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting. The Working Group will examine a number of options to support future funding and the reform of television licence fee collection and it is intended that it will report to me in Q1 2019.
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