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 Header Item Energy Schemes (Continued)
 Header Item Broadcasting Sector Regulation

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 1

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Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy There is much the Minister and I would agree on with regard to the switchover to energy efficiency and refurbishing people's homes so they can save energy. However, people are not foolish. They will take up the option if they see they can get a reasonable return on it. The last time I asked the Minister this question, he spoke about evangelising and recruiting people to this scheme. However, there must be a scheme to which people can be recruited. That is why I believe there should be some enthusiasm about setting out as quickly as possible the shape the scheme will take, so that people can put it into their plans for saving money over the longer term.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I have been trying to do the St. John the Baptist role that Deputy Catherine Murphy sees for me. We have a scheme. It is a grant-based incentive scheme and we are trying to sell it. Sometimes Deputy Murphy deliberately portrays a pessimistic face to the world about the dreadful things that are wrong, but if she wishes to join forces in going out to sell this to the householders of Leixlip, I assure her the grants will be approved in a very short time so they can get on with it.

The new scheme is a quite complex construction. I hope it will be attractive to the householder because of the principles behind it, but it requires people to be persuaded that they can make significant savings on their energy bills if they engage in retrofitting a housing stock which, quite honestly, leaves a great deal to be desired in this regard.

Broadcasting Sector Regulation

 55. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the actions he has planned to ensure that RTÉ has a sustainable future; the reforms he intends to bring to the current licence fee system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27900/13]

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte RTE is an independent national public service broadcaster whose remit and obligations are set out in section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. RTE has a direct obligation under section 105 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 to ensure that its revenue is, at the earliest possible date, at least sufficient to meet all sums properly chargeable to its current account and to make suitable provisions with respect to capital expenditure. I am satisfied that RTE management is fully cognisant of this obligation and is taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the company continues to be in compliance with the terms of the provision.

I have had cause to meet with senior management in RTE on several occasions during the last 18 months and I have made it clear that a continuing deficit position in the corporation is unacceptable. RTE is in agreement with this and has assured me that as a result of the restructuring programmes the organisation has undertaken and continues to undertake, a break-even position is targeted for the end of this year.

One of RTE's key challenges is managing its commercial revenue, which is declining as a result of increased levels of competition in a challenging and fragmented economic environment. RTE's commercial income totalled €156.3 million in 2012, compared to €167.3 million in 2011. This represents a decrease of 7%. The organisation's commercial income has fallen by 35% since 2008. In the first quarter of 2013, I understand that RTE's advertising revenues were weaker than expected for this year.

With regard to reform of the current licence fee system, the Deputy will be aware that the programme for Government commits to examining the role and collection of the TV licence fee in light of existing and projected technologies and to transforming the TV licence into a household-based public broadcasting charge to be applied to all eligible households and applicable businesses, regardless of the device used to access content or services. I recently received the completed report of the value-for-money review group on the proposal to introduce such a charge. The independently chaired review group, which was established under the auspices of my Department, examined a range of issues relating to the proposal, including the efficiency and effectiveness of the current licensing system. I am currently considering the contents of that report. I expect to be in a position, subject to Government approval, to initiate work in the autumn on the legislative and other work necessary to implement the household-based public broadcasting charge.

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