Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
921. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the funding released to date from the sound and vision fund for broadcasters experiencing difficulties related to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5542/20]
937. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if support packages are being put in place to assist provincial newspapers and local radio stations (details supplied). [6452/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 921 and 937 together.
I have no statutory function in relation to print media other than in relation to media mergers. Funding under the Sound and Vision Scheme is restricted under the Broadcasting Act 2009 to broadcast media and is funded by TV licence receipts.
At my request, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has waived the broadcasting levy for the independent radio sector for quarters 1 and 2, 2020 which will save the sector €1m. This waiver covers all independent radio at national, regional and local level as well as community radio.
The BAI are engaging with other broadcasters to track the impact of the crisis and to explore possible responses by the Authority. In this regard a Revised Sectoral Development Plan is due to be ratified by the BAI in the coming week.
The final round of Sound and Vision 3 was announced in March 2020 awarding just over €7m for 126 projects (€6.4m for 36 TV and €605k to 90 radio projects). The BAI is currently liaising with grantees to facilitate payments for pre-production and administrative work where the grantee is unable to start filming or recording. The first payments under this scheme are commencing this month.
The BAI has also agreed to my request to put in place a Covid 19 funding round under the Sound and Vision 4 Scheme of €2.5m for commercial radio given their important role in awareness-raising of Covid 19 at local level. This round is now underway with applications currently being assessed with decisions expected by the end of May.
The commercial radio round of Sound and Vision will be complemented by a funding round of €750,000 for the community radio sector. There will be further rounds later in 2020 for television and public service radio.