Section 16 of the Broadcasting Authority Act, 1960, sets out the general functions of the RTE Authority. Section 17 of that Act, as amended by section 13 of the Broadcasting Authority (Amendment) Act, 1976, sets out RTE's general duty with regard to its programming. These two sections form the basis of RTE's statutory public service remit.
I am on record, here and in European Union fora, as saying that the argument for maintaining and supporting a strong public service broadcasting service is stronger today than ever. I am also on record as saying that while I fully support the concept of public service broadcasting, as we have known it, this does not mean that nothing should change. New technologies offer the opportunity to do things more efficiently. In the current financial year, licence fee revenue accruing to RTE will be in excess of £67 million. Not unreasonably, licence holders must be reassured that the licence fee revenue is well spent and that the authority meets its statutory obligations in the most cost-effective manner.
It is, therefore, vital that RTE constantly reviews its own approaches and practices, which, even if they were appropriate in the past, may not be appropriate for the challenges of the present and future. In the new, highly competitive environment, the television licence payer ought not be expected to subsidise out-of-date approaches and practices. It is my intention to review the application for a licence fee increase in this context.