It’s flying Ant day.
It’s flying Ant day.
I wrote recently about some of the reasons I thought that public service broadcasting remained relevant after Netflix and other commercial streaming services.
At the end I suggested that we, the public for whom all this broadcasting was being done, should start our own discussion on how to solve the problems which have, in the last week alone, seen RTE issue a plan to slash services, staff and costs.
That plan alone, as the RTE Board’s Chairwoman acknowledged in an interview on the Marian Finucane radio programme, still doesn’t solve the major strategic problems RTE faces.
So, let’s start.
Pretend that the problems of RTE as an institution has been solved. That is a different discussion for a different day. Let’s just look at one thing at a time- this time, funding models.
This proposal should be read as deciding what proportion of the national wealth should be used for public service broadcasting- in whatever medium by whatever body.
The licence fee is regressive taxation, once it is widespread. It only made sense, morally, when only rich people had TVs.
But if you just leave RTE to be funded by general funds in the annual budget it can be starved for political purposes. There’s an interesting section in Sit Down and Be Counted where they say that the people who had worked in Radio Eireann had seen the advent of advertising money as a boon to independence, because they had been, up to that point, having to please individual Civil Servants with their output.
The household charge basically takes the error of the regressive, flat-tax approach of the licence fee and tries to apply it to more people, making that error worse.
So, taking some lessons from the BBC Royal Charter, this proposal is;
(Here, RTE should be read as standing in for whatever vehicles or institutions are given the job of delivering public service broadcasting)
Last year, this would have delivered €410m in funding, as opposed to RTE’s actual income of €337m.
Half a percentage point of Government revenue may be the right percentage, or it may not be enough, or it may be the wrong thing to tie this payment to. But it has no additional collection costs and no possibility of evasion and it’s paid for mostly through progressive taxation.
What do you think?
My quick thoughts on the requirement to have a PSC and a MyGovID account in order to access payments under the New Childcare Scheme. I was speaking about this on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE1 radio this morning.
The Sunday Independent had an eyecatching report this weekend. Headlined "First social media controls revealed: Irish watchdog to police content across EU" it sets out the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's proposals to Government as to how the the AV Services Directive should be transposed into Irish law.
Here's an interesting specific (and extreme) example of an administration body which becomes sociopathic by losing sight of its purpose. It is a institutional disorder which seems to be endemic across corporate entities. It's most serious in state bodies, because of they're gifted with state coercion powers.