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."

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