AN IRISH government commission has strongly supported the campaign to protect public service broadcasting.
The report of the Forum on Broadcasting has said that State broadcaster RTE's claim for a licence fee increase is fully justified and called on the Government to introduce measures to guarantee the viability of the station.
The Forum, chaired by retired Central Bank Governor Maurice O'Connell effectively endorses the position of the National Union of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists in relation to public service broadcasting and warns against the development of "a privileged cartel in the commercial broadcasting sector."
THE Irish Secretary of the NUJ Seamus Dooley has welcomed the recommendations in relation to the funding of public service broadcasting.
In a statement Mr Dooley said: This is a clear recognition of the importance of public service broadcasting. The Government must have the courage to grant RTE a licence fee increase which will be sufficient to safeguard the future of the station. The Report recognises that guaranteed funding is essential if public service broadcasting is to be protected and enhanced. Politicians can no longer afford to dodge that issue and must provide leadership.
The current dispute with the FAI over sports broadcasting rights has sounded a warning to the general public about the threat to public service broadcasting and I believe that there is now a greater understanding of what can happen when public service values are undermined.
This is a complex report and the wider implications of the recommendations will be carefully considered by the NUJ in the coming weeks. We welcome the proposal for the creation of a single regulatory authority and the demand for greater transparency at RTE.
While welcoming the decision to publish the report and to engage in public consultation we would be concerned if the "consultation process" was used as a means of delaying action on the licence fee.
Successive governments have failed to act on the Report of the Commission on the Newspaper Industry. This Report cannot suffer the same fate".
For further information contact:
Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary at 087 2236364, 8053258 or 8786643.
30th August 2002
NUJ Submission (WORD), 16 May 2002