"That , pursuant to Standing Order 130 of the Standing Orders relative to Public Business, the Broadcasting Bill 2008 be recommitted to the Select Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
It is important that we take seriously the requirement of the Government to ensure that whatever new structures are put in place, they will not be cumbersome, inefficient and expensive. If we proceed with the structure that is proposed in this Bill to set up a broadcasting authority, that is exactly what we will get. At a time when we need lean government, we will get bloated government in the area of broadcasting. That would be an opportunity lost.
The structures proposed in this Bill would put an unnecessary financial burden on broadcasters at a time when they must cope with major cutbacks due to plummeting advertising revenues. Telecommunications regulatory and licensing matters are currently handled by ComReg, whereas broadcasting regulation licences will be the responsibility of this new authority. There are now many instances in which these functions overlap and there have been major changes even in the past year. For example, there have been changes in video on demand and mobile broadband. As the technology advances, it is up to the regulators to adapt also and reflect the convergences that are already in train.
In a converged age, many of the issues facing the communication sector transcend the old boundaries, and therefore need a converged response. This brings financial benefits with it. For example, the converged UK regulator means that there is one regulator dealing with telecommunications and broadcasting. This new system has benefited from lower operating costs since its establishment in 2003. Ofcom's budget for 2004 and 2005 was, on a like for like basis, 5% less than the combined budgets of its predecessors. During the year, it reduced its costs by 5%. That kind of model is what we need in Ireland. I regret the fact that the Minister appears to be blind to the necessity to think again in terms of meeting today's needs, and not to reflect on a report that was issued in 2002. Time moves on and technology leaps on, yet we have a Minister——