Commercial broadcasters to bid for licence fee cash

Commercial broadcasters will be able to bid for an €12.9m slice of the licence fee from today to produce culture and adult literacy programmes.

Commercial broadcasters will be able to bid for an €12.9m slice of the licence fee from today to produce culture and adult literacy programmes.

The Broadcasting Funding Scheme was launched to encourage more commercial and state broadcasters to record aspects of the state’s heritage which are disappearing.

Dan Healy, the chief executive of Dublin radio station NewsTalk 106, said they welcomed the scheme and would definitely be chasing a share of the broadcasting fund.

Mr Healy said: “We are going to be submitting a document we think it is important that the licence fee shouldn’t go to just one place.”

The three-year scheme will be financed through the allocation of 5% of the annual television licence fee, which amounted to euro €8.3m in 2003.

The commission will be hearing submissions from interested parties, including independent broadcasters and the public, over the next five-weeks on how the annual scheme should be run.

The initial consultation document contains a draft outline of the structures, programme themes and the eligibility for the scheme.

Michael O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), said: “A core objective of the scheme to increase public access to high quality programmes on both radio and television.

“The Broadcasting Scheme provides an important opportunity for the production and broadcast of programming which, through financial constraint, might not otherwise be made.”

Mr Healy claimed the Dublin talk radio station could make programmes more cost effectively than the State broadcaster RTE.

“We think we can make better programming at a profit,” he said. “These funds will allow for content different than the state broadcaster and encourage larger audiences over to commercial stations.”

The fund will be looking at new television or radio programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience which could be in either of the state’s official languages.

The commission will also be looking for applications for programmes at national, local and community level to improve adult literacy.

Under the scheme people can also apply for funding for the development of archives of programme material produced in the state.

A spokeswoman for the BCI said it had so far received around 20 responses from those interested in accessing the fund.

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