Written Answers. - Broadcasting Services.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

72 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when he plans to publish the draft public service broadcasting charter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10844/03]

I have recently circulated a draft public service broadcasting charter to my Government colleagues for their observations. When I have received their comments I intend to publish the draft charter. As I stated in my reply to Question No. 169 of 4 March, I will then initiate a public consultation process, inviting submissions from interested parties in relation to the draft charter. To facilitate debate in the matter, I will establish an on-line forum on my Department's website.

The purpose of the charter is to provide an understanding to the people of Ireland of what is expected of RTE in return for the significant public funds provided to RTE from the proceeds of the television licence fee. Broadcasting law requires RTE's radio and television services to have the character of a public service, to be offered free-to-air and to be universally available, where practicable, to the whole community of the island of Ireland. Building on RTE's statutory remit the charter is a statement of principles that clarifies what is expected of RTE as the national public service broadcaster, including RTE's accountability to its audience. I look forward to the debate that publication of the charter will give rise to.