Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Review of Broadcasting Levy Required

I raised the issue of the broadcasting levy to be imposed on the independent broadcasters in the Dáil today during question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

I have highlighted this issue with the Minister on a number of occasions and have issued a number of statement on this also. I am concerned that the percentage levy proposed is too high on an industry that is already suffering economic hardship and may result in significant job losses.

"The latest figures for the total budget for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in 2010 is €7.6 million, up from the previous figure of €6.1 million. This is additional to the €1.5 million already outstanding for 2009. Under the terms of a Statutory Instrument laid before the Dáil in January and made under Section 33 of the Broadcasting Act, 2009, this money will have to be provided though a levy imposed on local stations.

"There is widespread concern that this levy will result in job losses across the independent sector. Now that the Broadcasting Regulator is to be funded by the broadcasting industry costs are already spiralling. At a time when advertising budgets are being slashed and jobs are being lost, the cost of the levy is punishing and totally unnecessary.

"The Labour Party did put forward proposals for a more streamlined operation incorporating ComReg and the Broadcasting Authority. We argued that one unified regulator would be more efficient and cost effective. This was backed up by a similar recommendation published in An Bord Snip. However, the Minister refused to listen, set up his quango instead and now broadcasters are bearing the brunt of his decision, as I predicted. There are now real concerns about the formula used to apportion costs.

“Unless the Statutory Instrument is annulled by the Dáil by next Thursday, the levy will come into effect, imposing a potentially crippling financial burden on stations, many of which are already struggling. This is a matter that is of such importance that it should not be allowed to go through by default."

Friday, January 08, 2010

Proposed Postcodes Won't Deliver

Happy New Year. As part of my 2010 New Year’s resolutions I have resolved to take up blogging again. Despite being one of the first TDs to start a blog, I haven't been updating it regularly for a while and I hope to address that this year.

I had a surreal conversation on Today FM's Last Word the other day with Ciaran Cuffe TD about postcodes. As each day passes the Green's seem more and more disconnected with reality.

I'm concerned about the cost to businesses and organisations with the introduction of postcodes. I believe that postcodes are a good idea, but they could pose lots of problems in the current economic climate. When I'd made what I thought to be a sensible point on this, I found myself in a weird ding dong with Deputy Cuffe who insisted that even Santa Claus had a postcode! I'm not sure this is the greatest argument for postcodes I've ever heard!

In more recent days I met again with Ciaran, who on a personal level I have great time for, on East Coast FM. Again, I found his arguments out of touch with the reality on the ground. The lack of understanding he showed towards the impact the weather crisis was having was offensive to people across Co. Wicklow, who phoned me later to express their frustration.

I accept that Dublin is also suffering badly by the harsh weather, but the reality is that Co. Wicklow and rural areas like it, is severely affected. People are very anxious and the remote rural areas are dangerously isolated. Thankfully, neighbours are really putting in an effort in all sorts of wonderful ways even in such hazardous conditions. I found this out to my cost this morning when going out to do a message for a neighbour and landed flat on my back. Most undignified.