Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 18 Jun 1991

Vol. 409 No. 9

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - TV3.

Austin Currie


8 Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications whether there has been any change in his policy of support for the creation of a third national television service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Toddy O'Sullivan


14 Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications if his attention has been drawn to the findings of a recent report (details supplied) which proposed that plans for a new television channel should be abandoned and that Network 2 should be privatised; if he will outline his views on this report's findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 14 together.

Government policy in relation to the establishment of an independent television service is set out in the Radio and Television Act, 1988, as expanded by section 6 of the Broadcasting Act, 1990. There has been no change in that policy.

Deputies will be aware that negotiations are continuing between the Independent Radio and Television Commission and the promoters of TV3 regarding the terms and conditions of the contract to be concluded between the parties. I welcome the statements in recent days that the prospects of a contract being concluded quickly are now regarded as good and that in such circumstances the promoters of TV3 hope to be able to begin their service before the end of this year.

I have seen the report referred to by Deputy O'Sullivan. It is a welcome contribution to the debate on the Irish broadcasting environment and its conclusions and recommendations will be taken into consideration as part of the ongoing review of the effectiveness of broadcasting legislation in achieving Government policy in this area. I can assure Deputy O'Sullivan that I have no plans to privatise Network 2 or any other element of RTÉ's broadcasting services.

The Minister has referred to statements in recent days which he has welcomed. Would he agree that many of these statements have been conflicting statements and that obviously there has been a lot of inspired leaking from both sources and, I would suggest, his Department? In view of his comments, would the Minister tell us whether he is satisfied that the promoters have met the requirements of the Independent Radio and Television Commission? Is the Minister satisfied that there is sufficient long term funding in place? Can he confirm that there have been changes from the original sponsors and would he tell us what he believes the position to be of the Smurfit organisation, of TVS, and of Yorkshire Television? Will the Minister welcome the fact that he has been given an opportunity to answer these questions in order to clarify the situation which is currently very confused?

The assessment of the possibilities for TV3 is a matter for the Independent Radio and Television Commission. Funding and sponsorship have to be and are being taken into account by the IRTC and it is their responsibility to assess whether they give the green light to TV3.

There is a lot of speculation to the effect that the Government believe there is no longer a market for TV3. Will the Minister say bluntly what is the position?

I have and I will repeat it. It is a matter for the Independent Radio and Television Commission to decide whether to give the go-ahead to TV3. It is clearly Government policy that there should be a choice of Irish channels. The Act lays down that the Minister shall initially direct the Commission to invite applications to provide such a service. They have done that and they are now in the assessment process. What is going on is quite clear.

Will the Minister say if he has any intention of changing the Act in that regard?

I am monitoring the effectiveness of the Act, and, if necessary, I will change it.