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TDs And Senators Told Of Imminent Threat To News Services on Independent Radio

Politicians of all parties have been warned about the danger of complacency regarding the future of news and current affairs on independent radio and that many services regarded as essential for the maintenance of democracy are under immediate threat.

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), the organisation representing Ireland’s 34 independent stations, told a briefing meeting of TD’s and Senators on Wednesday, November 29th, that reform of the funding model for public service broadcasting needs to be more than just about RTÉ, and it needs to happen now.

“The Covid pandemic showed how our stations play a vital role in providing information that is accurate, reliable, and most importantly trusted and how this contributes positively to communities in times of difficulty. Without the provision of accurate information by our stations during the pandemic, all sorts of mad conspiracy theories would have taken hold, creating real unrest,” according to John Purcell, Chair of IBI.

“The events last week on the streets of Dublin show how our country faces very serious threats to its stability because of disinformation and misinformation and the harnessing of online and social media by elements in society who are seeking to sow discord, fear and chaos in communities. At the very time when news and current affairs services on independent stations are needed the most, they are facing maximum financial pressure, with many close to breaking point.”

The briefing in Leinster House was told that the IBI believes that only full implementation of the Future of Media Commission recommendations to help radio stations could be as much as 2 – 2 ½ years away.

In addition, regardless of the timing of the introduction of the schemes, the independent radio sector has serious concerns that they will not be suitable to sustain the vital public services stations provide all over the country.

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