Fine Gael Senator Micheal Carrigy
News outlets and local radio in Longford should benefit from State support in a proposed alternative public service media charge to replace the outdated TV licence fee, Fine Gael Senator Micheál Carrigy has said.
The proposal is one of the main recommendations in the Fine Gael submission to the Future of Media Commission following a detailed survey and analysis on the local media landscape nationwide by the party with feedback from almost 100 key stakeholders.
Senator Carrigy said a cornerstone of the Fine Gael submission is strengthening and ensuring a successful future for regional newspapers, radio stations and media outlets serving their communities in Longford.
“A strong media sector is a cornerstone of a well-functioning democracy. We have always been lucky to have such a sector in Longford who do their duty without fear or favour. But that sector is under severe threat and has been for some time. It needs more support,” commented Senator Carrigy.
“Our local media organisations including, the Longford Leader newspaper and Shannonside FM in Longford need support now more than ever.
“Advertising and income sources are depleting, and online sites are taking content without reimbursing those who source it, while at the same time, throughout the Covid-19 public health emergency, the value of trusted news sources has never been more important.
“Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, 7pc of the TV licence fee is diverted to a broadcasting fund which goes to the independent sector – through the Sound and Vision Scheme. This figure was just under €5.9m in 2021, while State run national broadcasters received €78m for the same period.
“This system is no longer fit for purpose and it is time to recognise that this money should be raised in a new way.
“Such a move would provide additional funds of €50m - €75m to be used to help move both State broadcasting and independent media to a sustainable future. With such a development, a new Media Commission could develop a set of strategic supports for media in Ireland.
“One option for the commission would be to establish a hub for coverage of public activities like courts, local councils etc, which might not otherwise be reported, at considerable loss to the local community,” Senator Carrigy said.
“A diverse range of trusted local media sources is fundamental to our society. The content created by local media is essential to ensuring our communities continue to receive accurate, up to date and diverse news stories. We must act now to protect this valuable sector.”
Other recommendations in the submission include:
“The pandemic has shown us how important local news sources are for their readers and listeners. People rely heavily on trusted media outlets. To ensure this continues, they have to be supported by Government,” concluded Senator Carrigy.
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