TV fee decision gives media scales in favor of RTÉ


Penny for your thoughts, as the saying goes. Today, these thoughts, despite being given away for free, are being monetized by internet giants in the billions. Mass audience attracted by Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and others is the ocean on which waves of information break.

Navigating such a sea is a challenge for all traditional media. The safe havens built by state broadcasters like RTÉ are no longer as safe as they used to be,

Time and tide wait for none of us, but the bonus of being able to collect a license fee and also having a strong impact on the advertising market has been a bulwark against technological tsunamis.

Yet RTÉ is still desperately dependent on the fee, even though the media ecosystem has changed beyond recognition. Such considerations may explain the shock and dismay felt by some at the government’s decision not to accept a key Future of Media Commission recommendation to abolish television license fees by 2024.

The proposal was to replace it with state funding, but the government has opted to “overhaul” it and set up a group to consider how it can be modified to reflect today’s tastes.

So it updated “the kick the can down the road meme” and threw it into the hazy depths of cyberspace instead.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin defended the rejection, saying: “Whatever decisions we make, we have to future-proof them.” This would protect broadcasters from government interference should they disagree with the coverage and cut funding, said he.

RTÉ has ​​welcomed the new move whereby people who don’t have a TV but still watch content produced in Ireland may have to pay a fee. Viewers may be less enthusiastic.

The National Union of Journalists has also expressed its “serious disappointment” with the move and criticized the fact that there was no public debate. It has long been known that the quality of democracy and the quality of journalism are closely related.

The recommended reduced or zero VAT rate for newspapers and digital publications would be very welcome if an agreement can be reached at EU level. Online and print media companies like this have no other support than that of their loyal readers and advertisers.

The commission, chaired by Prof Brian MacCraith, said “the coming decade will be highly disruptive for the Irish media sector”.

No doubt it will be as it was in the previous decade. However, media companies have always had to adapt and respond to the needs of their audience.

Your future depends entirely on offering important information and building relationships through trust. These audience connections will carry us into the future, provided there is even competition between competitors.

Other platforms have had to weather storms and stay afloat without government flotation devices. Therefore, expanding the reach of the RTÉ royalty can be seen as tipping the scales in their favor. But the balance has to be maintained in the media. TV fee decision gives media scales in favor of RTÉ

Fry Electronics Team

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