Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht

Future of Public Service Broadcasting and Impact of Covid-19 on the Media Sector: Discussion

Photo of Shane CassellsShane Cassells (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the witnesses. I thank the members of the journalistic fraternity whom all three represent, especially when it is considered that, as Mr. Lynch pointed out, there is still a public hunger for proper news content as opposed to the guff that is put on social media without any fact checking or recourse to libel laws. The witnesses represent NUJ members who actually care about proper news content. In that context, I was glad to see that online subscriptions to major Irish newspapers increased during Covid. People still want to be able to access good quality news.

At this time last year, Ms Dee Forbes outlined the major financial challenges facing RTÉ. I ask Mr. Lynch to address quickly how that plan is progressing in terms of the €60 million cost cutting, the 200 jobs that were anticipated to be gone this year, and the sale of land at the RTÉ campus in Donnybrook. In the context of rebalancing, there is no point cutting RTÉ to the bone and then not having a State broadcaster that can compete and people bemoaning that it is not as good as some other offerings. RTÉ radio has shown itself to be a world leader and it has been recognised as such. On that point, where are we at in terms of RTÉ's liaison with the Government on the broadcasting charge and in terms of the income that RTÉ is bringing in on the online platforms? Mr. Lynch outlined the increase in streaming, but how much is coming in on the online charges? I ask Mr. Lynch to address those issues in a minute or so in order that I can move to the other delegates.


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