Part 7 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 provides for public service broadcasting in Ireland and the provisions relating to the public service broadcasting corporations, RTE and TG4, including their principal objectives. These provide the companies' statutory mandates and encapsulate the national policy on public service broadcasting. They include the specific objective of providing national, free-to-air public service broadcasting services, as well as the provision of a broad range of other additional services seen as fundamental to the role of the public service broadcaster.
In their pursuit of these objects, the Act's provisions subject the public service broadcasting corporations to a range of additional requirements. These statutory objects and requirements clearly set the State-owned public service broadcasters apart from their commercial counterparts which, while bringing choice and competition to the market, are privately owned and funded companies that have entered the market on the basis of a commercial proposition.
The rationale for providing State funding for public service broadcasting is to provide an independent and reliable income flow that allows these corporations to attain their public service objectives while ensuring they can maintain a high level of editorial independence. This is especially important in the context of news and current affairs.
RTE receives 93% of net television licence fee receipts to allow it to meet its public service broadcasting remit while the remaining 7% is allocated to the broadcasting funding scheme. The scheme is open to applications from both private and public broadcasters with the aim of encouraging the production of new television and sound broadcast programmes of a particular character as set out in section 154 of the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Commercial broadcasters also benefit from the provision of broadcasting spectrum which is charged at a set rate that is considerably lower to what it would otherwise cost in an open market. I am satisfied these arrangements are appropriate and, as such, have no intention of providing for the changes suggested.