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29/03/2001

AF ENDORSE RTE’S CALL FOR LICENSE FEE INCREASE

IRELAND’S Audiovisual Federation (AF) has endorsed, by a majority decision, the RTE proposal to increase the TV licence fee to an average of £IR120 per annum, which is still below the European average.
AF called on the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Síle de Valera, to propose such an increase to her colleagues in Government and to see the process through to a successful conclusion.
John Cummins of Agtel, and Chairman of the Audiovisual Federation, said: “A vibrant and properly-funded RTÉ is a crucial component in the economic development of the Irish audiovisual sector. It is clear that public service broadcasting requires and is deserving of public funding and an increase is essential at this critical juncture, given global and local developments.”
In endorsing an increased license fee, the Audiovisual Federation pointed out that: the increased license fee is the only mechanism to ensure that Irish originated content will continue to have a predominant place in the schedules of Public Service Broadcasters; the need to ensure that RTE provides value for money, by the full implementation of the Transformation Agreement outlined in the licence fee application and the necessity of complete accountability and transparency in the expenditure of licence fee revenues.
The AF also welcomed RTE’s commitment to increase the proportion of home produced content in prime time on RTE 1 and Network Two from 40 per cent to 50 per cent amounting to an additional 400 hours per annum. The AF pointed out that new Irish digital channels that are available to all and free at the point of reception would provide the wider public universal access to the information society.
The AF views adequate licence fee funding as a key factor in enabling RTÉ to play their full role in the development of the indigenous audiovisual sector, both in-house and in the independent production sector throughout Ireland. Indigenous content guarantees that there is a domestic production industry with the associated craft skills. The AF warned that a failure to support indigenous public service broadcasters alongside a vibrant commercial sector, would mean that production skills would be lost and would be difficult to regain. (CD)
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