Yesterday’s Tribune reported on upcoming Government legislation (reg req) that will see RTÃ‰ becoming a semi-state body, the BCI and BCC merging into the BAI (which will have authority over every Irish TV station, including RTÃ‰ and TG4).
The foundations for this move, just like that of an independent TG4 were laid out in 2001 with the Broadcasting Act of the time, however the collapse of RTÃ‰’s digital ambitions soon after that left the legislation gathering dust.
Commercial broadcaster TV3 has always felt that allowing RTÃ‰ to answer to itself meant the Irish TV market was an unlevel playing field, with different stations having different rules of engagement. This new situation should answer those concerns and also force every broadcaster to stick to their licence obligations.
Having the one authority over-see the products made by RTÃ‰ as well as its commercial ventures was also a dangerous situation as it increases the opportunity for commercial pressures to infringe on the PSB remit of the national broadcaster. The new RTÃ‰ board will theoretically seperate these aspects of the broadcaster and while commercial pressures will always be present to a company that relies to any degree on commercial income it will hopefully serve to strengthen the general independence of the station and continue to improve its content.
The creation of the BAI is long overdue too; as the Tribune article points out the BCI currently has little power in keeping companies in line with their licence remit; this will change once the BAI comes into being. Finally radio and TV stations can be fined if they fail to meet their licenced obligations.