In this post-truth world a motivated, credible and independent public sector broadcaster is an important bulwark against forces trying to roll back history.
In that context, it is important to acknowledge that we have been well served by RTÉ. The organisation is a reliable actor in our national life.
Like most traditional media organisations, it faces a fundamental challenge as it tries to match expectation and
capability. The fragmentation of media and the huge array of platforms means once-reliable incomes have been permanently reduced.
A debate on the licence fee and how it might be collected has dragged on for years.
Minister for Communications Richard Bruton brought it to a close yesterday when he announced the collection of the charge will be put out to tender.
The successful bidder will get a five-year contract and once that period has elapsed the licence fee will be replaced by a “device-independent broadcasting charge” to target those consuming publicly-funded content on devices other than television sets, a change that reflects today’s reality.
Even though the €160 licence fee is a fraction of pay-to-view TV charges, the usual, half-cocked opportunists describe it as a stealth tax.
It is not, it is a token fee for a service that is an essential cog in a modern democracy.
Any doubts about that would be quickly set aside if the alternatives were considered — especially as so many of today’s conduits are so unreliable, so easily manipulated and so dangerously antidemocratic.