Fianna Fáil bill wants more money to support independent radio stations

More money should be set aside from the TV licence fee to support programming on local radio stations, according to Fianna Fáil.

The party has today unveiled a new bill aimed at supporting independent radio in Ireland.

Out of every €160 paid for the licence fee, €10.53 is set aside for a special fund which RTÉ and private broadcasters share, but can use only for specific programming.

Fianna Fail's Timmy Dooley wants that to change and for licence fee money to be ring-fenced for programming with a local focus.

The opposition party's bill would give local stations 30% of any additional money collected.

He said: "The current uncollected licence fee should be provided to the special fund that they can then distribute to support local news and current affairs."

The proposal has been welcomed by the IBI, which represents Ireland's independent broadcasters.

Chairman John Purcell says local stations are feeling the pinch as advertisers move money elsewhere.

Mr Purcell said: "There is an imminent threat that the services in news, current affairs, information and talk programming that people know and love will suffer, because of the economic circumstances unless some action is taken."

Last week RTE reported a deficit of €20m, and they have stressed the need for more certainty around their funding in future.

Timmy Dooley says they would still benefit under his proposal.

He said: "The additional monies should be split 70/30 between RTÉ and the independent radio sector."

He is promising to move the bill early in the new term, and hopes for quick support from Minister Denis Naughten.

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