The committee has completed its deliberations on the issue of the television licence. It will now discuss the right of reply mechanism as outlined in the heads of the Bill. Members consider this as an emerging topic for the public, as individuals seek a right of reply. This is not complex but addresses concerns relating to a method of making complaints that provides for a right of reply. Such a development will place a greater duty on radio and television broadcasters. Members agreed they would benefit from a public hearing on the matter.
I draw attention to the fact that members of the committee have absolute privilege but this same privilege does not apply to witnesses appearing before the committee which cannot guarantee any level of privilege to witnesses appearing before it. Furthermore, under the salient rulings of the Chair, members should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official, by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
I welcome Mr. Peter Feeney and Mr. Eamonn Kennedy from RTE, Ms Mary Curtin from the RTE trade union group and Mr. Seamus Dooley from the NUJ. I also welcome Mr. Eamon de Valera, Mr. Michael McGrath and Mr. David McMunn.