Victory for local radio stations as regulator's levy is cut by 25pc
LOCAL radio stations are claiming victory in the battle against the controversial broadcasting levy after the Broadcasting Authority wiped 25pc off the proposed charge.
The levy comes into force this year and will pay the entire budget of the newly formed Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The BAI initially suggested a 2010 budget of €7.6m, some 27pc above 2009's.
Local radio stations responded with fury, and warned politicians the higher costs at the BAI could result in significant job losses at the radio stations forced to foot the bill.
Yesterday, the BAI confirmed that 2010's budget would actually be €5.7m, some €300,000 below 2009's even though the authority now has to regulate RTE.
"I am pleased that reason has prevailed," said Willie O'Reilly who heads up the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) and also runs Today FM.
Mr O'Reilly went on to thank the BAI for "listening" to the IBI's concerns.
"The IBI recognises the need for a sufficiently funded regulator and we have no issue in principle with an industry level to fund this important authority," he added. "but it is important that the budget is realistic and can be sustained by the industry."
Mr O'Reilly also paid tribute to the "support of local politicians" who "played a huge role in achieving this result".
News of the BAI's lower budget comes a fortnight after BAI chairman Bob Collins signalled he would make sure the actual budget came in below the €7.6m initially mooted.
"The figure was an indicative figure, simply to give stations some outlook," Mr Collins stressed at the time.