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BAI Recommendations on Next Five Years' Funding for RTE & TG4
18 Jul 2013 : By Kevin Cronin
Minister Rabbitte and BAI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe.
The BAI has published its recommendations for the required funding levels for RTE and TG4 over the next five years, as dictated by the Broadcasting Act 2009.

The review includes a detailed analysis of costed strategic plans submitted by both public service broadcasters; their multi-annual funding requirements; the level of commercial funding available; and developments in public service broadcasting internationally.

Crowe Horwath was commissioned by the BAI to carry out the five-year funding review, which informed the BAI’s recommendations - which were in turn submitted to Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte this week.

Based on positive feedback, the BAI is satisfied that the Government’s position is in broad alignment with its own.

The BAI made a number of recommendations for both RTÉ and TG4, along with recommendations for ensuring that their future use of public funding is fully accounted for.

The following is a summary of the BAI’s recommendations for RTE:

• There should be no immediate increase in licence fee funding, but an increase in public funding will be needed over the next five years to ensure further investment in RTE’s programmes.

• This increased funding would be conditional on RTE achieving further cost reductions and savings.

• Any funding increase should be channelled through the independent production sector, to the greatest extent possible.

• The BAI recommends a ‘re-balancing’ between RTE’s public & commercial funding, with the Minister identifying a point above current licence fee revenue, where further public funding will be matched by a reduction in RTE’s commercial revenue.

Regarding TG4, the BAI recommended:

• Funding should be maintained at current levels and further cost savings and efficiencies cannot be secured under TG4’s current operational model.

The BAI also recommends legislative change to give it responsibility for determining advertising limits across all broadcasters - replacing the current system where three separate regimes exist to determine advertising minutage.

Finally, the BAI recommends a number of refinements to the existing annual process of reviewing public funding, which would enhance accountability for both RTÉ and TG4.

Chairperson of the Authority, Bob Collins also identified the importance of exploiting digitalisation within the broadcasting sector.

He said that further investment in RTÉ’s programming would be dependent on the broadcaster demonstrating greater cost reductions and increased potential for revenue streams.

Mr Collins added: ‘The Government decision to integrate the review of advertising minutage with the BAI’s role is very much welcomed. It meets a long-standing objective to have flexibility in adjusting the advertising potential of commercial broadcasting and to consider the balance between public and commercial funding for RTE and TG4.’

The BAI is now devising an implementation plan for its recommendations and will be meeting with the Department of Communications, RTE and TG4 in the coming weeks.

Further information on the BAI’s recommendations is available here.

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