Tuesday 21 November 2017

RTE fees would impact viewers, Virgin claims

Communications Minister Denis Naughten. Photo: Tom Burke
Communications Minister Denis Naughten. Photo: Tom Burke
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Virgin Media Ireland's chief executive has written to Communications Minister Denis Naughten, claiming that a plan to make it pay to carry RTE would lead to increased prices for consumers.

Tony Hanway said such fees, known as retransmission fees, could be passed on to viewers, which would effectively be "double taxation".

Fees could also favour Saorview, which is the free-to-air platform run by RTE.

"Commercial negotiations following changes in legislation could also result in public service broadcasters (PSBs) having to pay the TV operator to include their channels in packages, rather than the other way around," said Hanway. "This risk would be particularly acute for smaller PSBs, such as TG4."

The letter comes ahead of a meeting on October 3 of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, which is examining proposed changes to broadcasting legislation.

There are a number of changes which could help boost RTE's coffers.

Hanway also questioned "perceived popularity" of RTE content. According to Virgin's research, more than one-third of respondents said they would not watch any RTE channels if they went missing from the Virgin platform.

Others said they would give up RTE rather than pay a surcharge.

Sunday Indo Business

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