Screen Producers Ireland have launched a new video and held an Oireachtas briefing session in Dublin today based around a new campaign showcasing the high quality programming of the Irish independent production sector.
Part of the campaign is also to recommend solutions for TV Licence Fee reform and to highlight that there is more the TV Licence Fee than just RTÉ.
“The Irish independent production sector makes the nation’s best loved, most watched programmes,” said Elaine Geraghty, CEO of Screen Producers Ireland.
“From Room to Improve, Dancing with the Stars, Finding Joy to Ear to the Ground and many, many others; independent producers set the standard for Irish television.”
“Our video highlights the amazing programmes, hard-working talent and dedicated independent production companies that make these programmes happen. It is a celebration of our sector.”
“We are at a critical time for the Irish independent production sector, she continued.
“Without substantial reform of the out-dated TV Licence Fee, the independent production sector will continue to suffer. Our message today is that there is more to the Licence Fee than just RTÉ. The independent sector is an integral part of public service broadcasting and our top-quality programming is the proof.”
“Spend on our sector has been stagnant since 2008. RTÉ spend in our sector, in particular, has dropped from approximately €80 million a year to €40 million for the last 10 years.”
“This has put enormous pressure on independent production companies to provide the same level of top-quality programming at reduced budgets.”
“At a time when RTÉ and other broadcasters are under substantial financial pressure and intense competition from global players, the spend on the cost-efficient independent production sector has not increased.”
“There is a solution. Screen Producers Ireland recommends that the TV Licence Fee is reformed, that Revenue are appointed as the collection agent and that the increased revenue from these measures is spent on independent productions that the nation loves to watch. Enacting these recommendations would be a win for our broadcasters and for the viewers.”
“Radical thinking is needed to make this happen and there is an opportunity for action. The newly appointed Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton, could set out an ambitious plan for radical reform. He can make a significant difference to the future sustainability of the independent production sector and the best public service offering for the TV Licence fee payer.”
It’s a bold statement and a challenge to the Minister but one which needs to be made and which is particularly important under the threat of blockbuster entertainment offerings coming in via Sky, Amazon and Netflix.
If we want homegrown entertainment of quality, we cannot afford to stand idly by.
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