Theme 8: Any issues not covered in the above themes.
Written submissions and communications should be sent by email to:
PS-Broadcasting@oireachtas.ie and / or by post to:
Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Houses of the Oireachtas
Submissions should be received not later than the closing date below.
The Committee will consider any suitable written submissions received and may decide to invite a number of contributors to public hearings should it be considered necessary.
Submissions and communications should only be sent to the email address above and not to individual members of the Committee.
Please note that the Clerk will ensure that all members of the Committee receive, in due course, copies of all submissions and communications received.
Format of Submissions
As a general guideline, submissions should consist of:
a covering letter (email or email attachment in MS Word or equivalent);
a main submission document (email or email attachment in MS Word or equivalent).
The covering letter should contain your name and contact details (phone number and postal address and, if available, an email address). If the submission is on behalf of an organisation, you should indicate your position in the organisation. If your submission is on behalf of another organisation, please make this clear in your letter.
Details to be contained in submissions
The main submission document should contain the following information:
1. Your name;
2. A brief introduction, for example, explaining your area of expertise;
3. Any factual information that you have to offer from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other parties for their reactions;
4. Any recommendations to the Committee which should be as specific as possible and should be summarised at the end of the document;
5. An executive summary of the main points made in the submission, if your document is more than 10 pages long;
6. Whether you would be prepared to appear at a public session of the committee.
The Committee is not obliged to accept your document once it has been submitted, nor is it obliged to publish any or all of the submissions if it has received or accepted.
However, the operation of a parliament is a public process, and you should be aware that any submissions made to a Committee may be published either as part of a Committee report, or separately, if the Committee decides to do so.
The closing date for receipt of submissions will be Friday 10 February 2017.
Late submissions will be circulated to the committee, but there is no guarantee that they will be taken into account when the committee is considering its report.
The committee has set up a web site for this public consultation including links to relevant documents and the full text of committee meetings.
Should you have any queries in relation to this matter, please email:
Leo Bollins, Clerk to the Committee, at 01 618 3575
Ireland currently operates a TV licence fee system to offset the costs involved in public service broadcasting. For instance, in 2014 the gross revenue from TV Licence fee receipts was approximately €214 million.
An Post, a body under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, acts as the collection agent for the licence fees. At present, An Post representatives contact those in residential and commercial addresses with a view to collecting the fee, which is set at €160. This fee must be paid annually by all who are in possession of a television set on their premises. An Post receives a commission fee from the Department for its collection work.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland receives 7% of the net TV licence fee receipts for the operation of a Broadcasting funding scheme (Sound & Vision 3)1, which provides funding in support of high quality programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience, and programmes to improve adult literacy.
TG4 receives a portion of the TV licence fee receipts and this is currently set at €9,245,000.
The remaining fees are granted to RTÉ. An example of how the revenue received from TV Licence fees in 2014 was broken down is provided in table 1 overleaf. The TV licence fee receipts 2012 – 2015 are outlined in table 2, overleaf.
It is estimated that the approximate figure for losses in revenue as a result of evasion could rise to approximately €40,000,000 per annum,2 which, based on the Revised Estimate for 2016, would represent a rate of evasion of 18%. This rate is in stark contrast to the United Kingdom, for instance, where the rate of evasion is approximately 5.5%.3
In recent times, there have been calls from various media outlets for reform in the area. In September 2015, the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland published a report in relation to the TV licence fee. The report had the following to say on the matter:
TV Licence evasion levels remain stubbornly high in Ireland. Obtaining access to the subscriber details of satellite and cable services will assist in identifying evaders but prevailing attitudes to summons and convictions will also need to be tackled.4
Revenue received from TV Licence Receipts in 20145
Gross TV Licence fee Receipts
Less An Post Commission
Net TV Licence fee receipts
BAI (Broadcasting Fund) 7% of net
TG4 (Fixed Amount)
RTÉ (Balance after An Post, BAI and TG4)
TV Licence fee receipts6
An Alternative Method of Funding Public Service Broadcasting?
In April 2016, Mr. Noel Curran, then outgoing Director General of RTÉ, called for reform of the TV Licence fee, which he said is no longer fit for purpose.8
A public service broadcasting charge was mooted by the previous government as an alternative method for the collection of fees to offset the cost of public service broadcasting in Ireland.9 However, Minister Naughten recently rejected the idea in favour of maintaining and improving the current system that is in place.10 Minister Naughten was of the opinion that there may be more pressing issues to deal with at present, while also conceding that times have changed and that the issue may need to be revisited at some point in the future.
Themes for the Public Consultation
You are invited to give you views on any or all of the following themes.
Theme 1: Additional services / growth in digital services
Additional services in this context would include those that:
would provide extra commercial revenue for Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs); and/or
would assist in the lowering of costs related to current services that are provided.
Growth in digital services in this context would include things that:
would alter current infrastructure with a view to making existing digital services more accessible to the public, thereby further increasing revenue.
Digital Transmission Terrestrial (DTT) platform
Saorview, a DTT platform which is run by RTÉ through its subsidiary 2RN, is the primary source of broadcast television in Ireland. What other opportunities arise from the use of the Digital Transmission Terrestrial (DTT) platform?
Has the commercial potential of DTT been analysed sufficiently?
Would the Irish Film Channel be feasible (as provided for in the Broadcasting Act 2009)?
What is the status of HDTV on DTT, cable and satellite in Ireland?
The NewERA review noted that “options regarding the use in part or whole of the site in Donnybrook (for instance, 20% of the physical site is presently underdeveloped) should be explored as a possible source of funding for investment”.11
Also, according to RTÉ, the board has “decided that RTÉ should prepare to dispose of up to 10 acres of underutilised land at the Donnybrook end of the site in 2016/2017”,12 which, one estimate suggests, could be worth €60,000,000.13
In its 5-Year Strategy, RTÉ expressed its desire to develop its Donnybrook site into a “digital hub”.14
What is the status of this proposed redevelopment?
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has grown sharply in recent years in other EU Member States and the number of homes paying for internet-based television services is expected to more than double by 2021 according to one recent report.15
The Houses of the Oireachtas has provided IPTV (via Multcast IP) coverage of parliamentary proceedings since 2005, on the Government Campus LAN, the Government Networks, and educational and research networks in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK and the European Union in association with HEAnet – Ireland’s National Research & Education Network.
What are the opportunities and threats to PSBs associated with the growth in popularity of IPTV?
Theme 2: Funding / revenue generation
Funding/revenue generation in this context would relate to:
The NewERA Review refers to an either/or approach regarding funding i.e. additional public funding or further cost reduction/efficiency measures.16 However, the Review states that provision of additional public funding is one of a range of potential measures for consideration.
Do stakeholders feel that additional efficiency gains are feasible, especially considering that the 2014 Annual Review states that further gains from TG4, in particular, do not appear to be possible?
Former Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, suggested that a public service broadcasting charge could contribute to “adequate funding for public service broadcasting”.17
It was also estimated that licence fee evasion results in a loss of approximately €25,000,000 to PSBs annually, which represents an evasion rate of approximately 15%.18
The Government also approved the introduction of measures designed to help in the tackling of licence fee evasion in July 2014.19
What is the current status of the public service broadcasting charge (or equivalent ‘media charge’)?
What is the impact of public service broadcasting charge being shelved indefinitely?20
Is there a need for legislation/stronger penalties to tackle licence fee evasion and if so, what is the status of this (proposed) legislation?
In light of recent developments (publication of the NewERA review into the operational efficiency of RTÉ in May 201421, publication of the Indecon advertising market analysis report in July 201422, and a sharp improvement in the Irish economy):
Do stakeholders now (January 2017) believe there is a strong basis for an increase in PSB funding?
Do stakeholders wish to suggest any alternative methods of funding?
Theme 3: Commercial activities vs. public service objects
Commercial activities in this context would include those that:
are undertaken with a view to maximising revenues; and
are undertaken with a view to subsidising the public service objects of the PSBs.
Public service objects in this context are those contained within sections 114 and 118 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 for RTÉ and TG4 respectively.23
How has the fall in commercial revenue impacted on the PSBs? Is the expectation that this will reverse in 2016/2017 as the economy strengthens?
Is there a trade off between commercial revenue and public funds? What is the optimal mix of these, using international examples?
The 2014 Review states that RTÉ 2fm “appears to be failing against the aim of drawing younger listeners, leading us to raise the question of whether this audience would be better served by the commercial sector”.24
Do the stakeholders concur with this view?
How can the PSBs prove that their programming is “demonstrably more creative than that of its commercial rivals”?25
The 2014 Review recommended “the introduction of a centralised annual survey, administered by the BAI, to track public perceptions of the PSBs against their key public service objectives, and also allows for some comparison with commercial and international broadcasters available in Ireland.”26
What is the current status of this survey?
Theme 4: Advertising minutage
Advertising minutage in this context represents:
the total daily time for broadcasting advertisements; and
the maximum period given to advertisements in any hour.
Due to RTÉ’s market position, it can command a premium price for advertisements (based on the Indecon Review assessment).27
This has been undermined in recent years by the rise of ‘opt-out’28, dedicated Irish advertising feeds on (mainly) UK channels, such as Sky 1, Sky News, Channel 4 and E4.
The Indecon Review highlights that UK opt-out channels now have a 23.5% share of the commercial (impact) advertising market with RTÉ/TG4 (combined) falling to 39% in 2013 from 51% in 2006.29
What is the likely impact on Irish programming and how can all broadcasters be encouraged to reinvest in Ireland/Irish programming?
It has been reported that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is involved in the process of engaging specialists to determine the impact of ‘opt-out’ advertising on the Irish market.30
What is the current status of the consultation process?
Increasingly, commercial/opt-out channels are competing for, and securing, exclusive content (such as GAA matches).31
How are Irish PSBs going to counteract the increasing dominance of “exclusive” channels?
Theme 5: Outsourced / Independent production (external resources)
Outsourced/independent production in this context refers to:
those productions which are produced by the independent sector, or otherwise, which may offer greater value for money to PSBs when compared to in-house productions.
Under section 116 Broadcasting Act 2009,32 RTÉ has a statutory obligation to spend a predetermined minimum amount (the statutory amount) every year on independently produced television and radio programmes.
Every year, RTÉ also publishes an annual report into independent productions.
The statutory (minimal) amount RTÉ must spend was €39,500,000 in 2015. RTÉ spent €40,600,000 (+€1,100,000 over the statutory amount) on independent programme commissions in 2015 and worked with over 100 independent production companies. For comparison, this compares to a pre-crisis spend of €80,000,000 in 2007.33
In 2015, RTÉ spent just +2.8% over the minimal statutory amount required under the 2009 Act.
Why does RTÉ not spend a greater proportion than just above the statutory minimum?
Does the capacity for further outsourcing/use of independent production by RTÉ exist and what priority is attached to this?
What impact does RTÉs recent (November 2016) decision to outsource its young people’s programming have on the industry as a whole?34
How does RTÉ’s use of independent production compare across other PSBs in the European Union?
What are the potential consequences of RTÉ converting into a publisher broadcaster, i.e. a broadcaster which commissions/buys all of its programming from companies independent of itself (an example being Channel 4 in the UK)? What are the pros and cons of such a move?
What are the opportunities for the PSBs through a more extensive use of the independent production market?
Does the current model sufficiently support the creative economy?
Theme 6: TG4 and Irish content/language
TG4 and Irish content/language in this context refers to:
increases in efficiency of services relating to Irish content/language provided by TG4 which would further assist in accessing its core audience/wider audiences.
How does the switch to the Digital Transmission Terrestrial (DTT) platform impact on TG4?
What specific measures has TG4 put in place to appropriately promote and encourage development of the creative economy (i.e. creative industries), particularly in the West of Ireland?
It was recommended in the 2014 Annual Review (p. 104) that TG4 set out fewer, specific and measurable key performance targets and commitments.35
What is the progress to date on this?
Is it possible for TG4 to pursue its principal objects36 given the existing level of resources available to it?
Theme 7: Conduct of the review process
Conduct of the review process in this context refers to the interaction between the following bodies with regard to their annual and 5-year review and the recommendations that arise from these:
the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (including consultants hired to produce reviews/reports); and
the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
The BAI have a central role, through the single and multiannual funding reviews, in reviewing the adequacy of funding for the Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs).
The 5-Year Review made a number of recommendations regarding the need to establish a more explicit link between the annual process and the Five-Year strategy of each PSB.37
The Government has stated that recommendations pertaining to the conduct of the annual and 5-Year Reviews will be implemented in full.38
The annual process now (since 2014) serves to facilitate a check on progress against the Five Year strategy.
What changes have been made to the Review process since it commenced?
Do the stakeholders believe the process to be optimal?
The 2014 Annual Review states that TG4 has outlined 415 Key Performance Indicators for annual review which it “is not convinced is helpful for a business the size of TG4”.39 It goes on to state these commitments:
are not clearly testable;
lack straightforward pass/fail criteria;
and that TG4 should adopt RTÉ’s approach by setting a very small number of tightly-defined quantitative targets.
Do stakeholders wish to comment on this?
Theme 8: Other issues not covered in other themes
You are invited to make your views know on any other broadcasting matter(s) not covered by the other themes.
How will quality journalism be funded due to the following changes?
Reduction in funding available through the licence fee
Reduction in funding due to the loss of advertising revenue?
Is there a risk that the growth of social media, replacing traditional channels, will reduce the quality of journalism?
Public Sector / Private Sector / Community Sector
What are the respective roles of the following sectors
Community / not for profit sector (as defined in the Broadcasting Act 2009)?
What are the issues and risks with changes in the structure of media ownership?
Digital Single Market
What are you views on the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy, and how it affects Public Service Broadcasting?
Unjustified Geo Blocking?
A more modern, European copyright law?
A review of the Satellite and Cable directive?
If you have any views on any related matters not otherwise covered, please let the committee know.
Appendix 1 - Glossary
BAI - Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
DTT - Digital Terrestrial Television – Saorview in ireland.
IPTV - Internet Protocol Television.
Opt-out advertising – there are 34 UK TV channels selling advertising in Ireland, having a negative effect on the advertising income of all Irish broadcasters. (Screen Producers Ireland.)
PSB - Public Service Broadcaster.
Appendix 2 – Reports on Public Service Broadcasting
Review of Funding for Public Service Broadcasters
(the ‘5 year’ review /
the ‘CH review’)
Crowe Horwath (on behalf of BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland))
This first 5-yearly review of the adequacy of public funding, as required under the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Five-year Review of Public Funding - Authority recommendations
BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland)
BAI’s recommendations on foot of the 5 year review.
Government Response to the Review of the Funding of Public Service Broadcasters
Department (the then Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources)
Department’s / Government’s response to the 5 year review (including commitments to bring forward legislation, etc. incorporating the BAI recommendations.)
Review of RTÉ (the ‘NewERA’ Review)
National Treasury Management Agency (NewERA) (on behalf of the Department)
To examine, quantify (to the extent possible) and assess the scope for further financial efficiencies in RTÉ across all its services and operations to include but not limited to the performing groups and Irish language radio service.
July 2014 (published in)
Public Funding Review of Public Service Broadcasters 2014 (of 2013 performance) (the ‘O&O review’)
Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates Ltd. (on behalf of BAI)
The Broadcasting Act 2009 imposes a statutory duty on the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (the BAI) to undertake an annual review of the two public service broadcasters in Ireland – RTÉ and TG4. This is the most recent annual review available.
Indecon Economic Analysis of the Advertising Market in Ireland 2013
Indecon (on behalf of the Department)
The report concerns an independent economic analysis of the advertising market in Ireland.
Appendix 3 - Membership of the Committee
Chairman: Hildegarde Naughton
Rural Independent Group
Social Democrats - Green Party Group
Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit
Appendix 4 - Committee Meeting 8 November 2016
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Letter from the Minister re Public Service Broadcasting PDF
Letter from the Minister re Public Service Broadcasting Scanned PDF
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
DCCAE Opening Statement PDF
Letter from DCCAE re funding Public Service Broadcasting PDF
Letter from DCCAE re funding Public Service Broadcasting Scanned PDF 16 November 2016, attachments:
Digital Adspend hits high of €340m with 29% growth in 2015, IAB & PwC Adspend Study reveals
IAB Ireland / PwC Online Adspend Study for H1 2016
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Opening Statement PDF
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Opening Statement PP
See also the full text of the official report of the meeting, and the video recording.