The government must maintain the current television license, but says it will review the system to ensure it is more fair, relevant and sustainable.
The announcement was made during the release of the report by the Commission on the Future of Media, which was tasked with examining funding models and challenges for the media sector.
The report recommends replacing the license fee with funding from the Treasury, but the government says it will retain the current system “in order to maintain a direct link between the media and the public they serve, and to minimize the risk of actual or perceived political interference in the independence of the media”. “.
The commission’s report contains a total of 50 recommendations and the government says it will, in principle, adopt 49 of them.
A new Media Fund will be created to support the broader media and journalism sector at local, regional and national level, and will be open to broadcast, print and online media.
The report also recommends a number of other actions to help ensure greater equality, diversity, inclusion and sustainability in the media sector.
Coimisiún na Meán, the new regulator, will play a key role in setting industry standards, and eligibility for public funding will be conditional on meeting these standards.
The commission also recommends that environmental sustainability standards be considered as part of future funding eligibility criteria.
The Commission on the Future of the Media, set up by the government in September 2020, has been tasked with developing recommendations on sustainable public funding and other support to ensure that the media in Ireland remains viable, independent and able to fulfill public service objectives.
The Commission was also asked to make specific recommendations regarding the financing of RTÉ.
The government received the Commission’s report last year and has been criticized for not releasing it sooner.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Today’s decision by the government to review the television license and target additional media investment in Ireland marks a new start, both for public service broadcasters as well as commercial and community print, online and broadcast media.
“The government is committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that Irish media continue to provide high quality public service content at local, regional and national level,” he added.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the decision to maintain but revise the license fee “is the right one”.
“It guarantees a dedicated and more secure funding stream for public service broadcasting and ensures that public service funding is ring-fenced,” Mr Varadkar said.
Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Minister Catherine Martin has said a technical group will review the overhaul of the TV licensing system and report back to her in November.
Earlier, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said the government ‘decided not to follow the advice’ of the Commission on the Future of the Media ‘out of concern that the media would come under political control’.
Mr Ryan said there were concerns that ‘you’ll have a government in the future saying we’ll cut the budget if we don’t like the story, and that wouldn’t be good for the media Irish or for Irish democracy.
“We don’t want to undermine our media funding, so we need to get it right and figure out how it works properly,” Ryan added.
Additional reporting: Mícheál Lehane, Laura Fletcher