SIPTU has called on Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, to recognise the extent of the funding crisis for public service broadcasting by the speedier implementation of the new media charge which was announced today (Friday, 2nd August). SIPTU Head of Services Division, Karan O’Loughlin, also said that union members would oppose the out-sourcing of licence fee collection and the imposition of any additional financial burden on households who are currently paying their TV licence. She said: “This is not a new charge and it should only affect financially those who are currently not paying the TV licence. The level of non-compliance with the TV licence payment contributes to the serious funding problem experienced by public service broadcasting. “Everybody needs to understand that content such as news, current affairs, children’s programmes, drama and sports coverage don’t happen magically. Content has to be produced and paid for. The Public Service Broadcaster also contributes a minimum of €40 million a year to the independent production sector which generates further employment and quality content. “An independent Public Service Broadcaster is a vital part of any functioning democracy. The alternative is either a government-controlled broadcaster or we have a Republic where all media and broadcasting is owned by private companies pursuing their own agendas.” She added: “The Minister has proposed that the media charge be introduced in five years’ time. Such an extended wait for its introduction will result in the destruction of public service broadcasting in this country. Unless there is speedier action taken the announcement this morning amounts to little more that the Government abdicating its responsibility to the maintenance of quality public service broadcasting. The trade union movement would also be concerned about any proposal to outsource the collection of the licence fee to private companies.”