It is time to support local broadcasters in Waterford by waiving or significantly reducing the broadcast levy, Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has said.
Senator Cummins said, “The broadcast levy covers the operating costs of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The establishment of the Future of Media Commission, which is set to replace the BAI, affords us the opportunity to give local broadcasters a badly needed break and either waive or significantly reduce this levy.
“I understand Government has committed €7.5m to this new Commission, and from 2024 on it is set to receive a stream of income with the levy to be paid by social media companies. So, with the funding of this new entity secured, we can show our support for small local independent broadcasters by removing the burden of this levy.
“Fine Gael made a submission to the Future of the Media Commission and in it we highlighted the reach of local media and its reputation as a reliable and authoritative news source when evaluating what constitutes public service.
“Our radio stations are a vital element of that public service and need to be supported to ensure their survival. I was delighted to meet with a number of local radio stations recently in Dublin regarding this important matter. Recently I advocated very strongly within the party to support for our local newspapers with the 0% VAT rate and I will do so again for local radio.
“Waterford people trust and value their local news sources and they are not alone. The report of the Future of Media Commission states that over 70% of people have a high trust in our local and regional media compared to 30% in news we get through social media. It is absolutely vital we support the continuation of a strong local media sector.
“The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, which is the relevant legislation, is back before the Oireachtas Committee shortly and Fine Gael members of the Committee will make it a priority to table an amendment removing the requirement for local broadcasters to pay this levy,” Senator John Cummins concluded.