I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 69 together.
I will begin by thanking the members of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media for their work on the pre-legislative scrutiny report on the general scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. The report of the joint committee demonstrated the importance of pre-legislative scrutiny, and Oireachtas committees, to the parliamentary and democratic process.
I am conscious that the introduction of an individual complaints mechanism raises a number of complex practical and legal issues, including in terms of the sheer volume of content online, that Ireland will be regulating a number of services on an EU-wide basis, and of questions relating to due process requirements and how quickly decisions could reasonably be made by the online safety commissioner. In light of the recommendations of the joint committee in its pre-legislative scrutiny report, I am examining how these difficult issues can be addressed. As I announced last week, I will shortly establish an expert advisory group to report within 90 days on these matters, with recommendations for how best to address them. I intend to announce the membership of the group in the coming days. Following the report of the group, I will consider whether and how to give effect to any recommendations through amendments to the legislation on Committee Stage.
Regarding the establishment of coimisiún na meán, it is essential that it has sufficient staff with experience and skills at the appropriate level in order to effectively carry out its regulatory functions. As Deputies will be aware, the commission will have an expansive remit. In the first instance, it will take on the current functions of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in regulating both television and radio broadcasters. The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill provides that the commission will also be responsible for the regulation of video on-demand services and, through the online safety commissioner, for oversight of the new regulatory framework for online safety. The commission will also have roles in respect of the protection of children, research, education, media literacy and journalistic and creative supports. In carrying out these roles the commission will support and promote an open, trusted and pluralistic media and online environment.
Given the importance of the functions and role of the commission, the Government has approved its establishment on an administrative basis prior to the enactment of the Bill. While the Commission will ultimately be funded through levies on regulated services, I secured €5.5 million in budget 2022 for start-up funding to support the establishment of the commission. My officials are working with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to start the process of recruiting key staff for the commission. Funding and commencing the recruitment process in advance of the formal establishment of the commission will enable these personnel to hit the ground running and ensure that operations commence at the earliest possible date following the enactment of the Bill.