Latest amendments to Broadcasting Bill passed by Dáil
The latest amendments to the 2008 Broadcasting Act have been passed by the Irish Parliament’s House of Representatives (the Dáil) and returned to the revising house,the Senate (Seanád) from which it was initially presented for final ratification of the Dail amendments and forwarding to the President for signing.
Some of the amendments concern the creation of a new super regulatory authority established along somewhat similar lines to the UK’s Ofcom. The new organisation is to be known as the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and will replace the RTÉ Authority which self regulated RTÉ since its inception and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) which regulated the commercial broadcast sector. For now, this bill does not alter ComReg’s spectrum management role over TV and radio. A further chance for TV license payers who default is introduced before prosecuton incurs also.
The wording concerning the switch over to DTT has also been modified to allow some additional leeway. The new proposal is that instead of at least 90% free-to-air coverage being available by the 31st December 2009 that the wording will be that approximately 90% of the population would be covered. In addition it is also proposed that the free-to-air DTT coverage will be the same as that provided by analogue TV by the 31st December 2011 or such later date as may be specified by the Minister. RTÉ are tasked with equipment sourcing and assisting with ASO information to the public with the BAI given the informational role on DTT under the Minister’s co-ordination with stakeholders. The Minister has the power to provide for those most disadvantaged by the move to DTT.
If the changes are agreed they will go to the President for signing into law as the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Source: Broadband TV News and http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=9433&&CatID=59 with additional information sources from Seo Cáthain
Original item: 22nd June 2009
Item updated: 6th July 2009