Statements & Speeches

RTÉ statement following JOC hearing

Retransmission fees in Ireland

According to Aisling McCabe, Head of Platforms and Partnerships, RTÉ:

On free Irish content:

"There is no justifiable reason why platforms, such as Virgin or Sky, should get Irish free-to-air channels and content for free. This is content paid for by the Irish audiences, who are then charged again, as customers, to watch this content. Irish content is the most-watched programming on these platforms - and yet these platforms do not give any fair value back to Irish channels so that we can invest in more original Irish content on behalf of Irish audiences.Pay TV platforms routinely pay all sorts of channels and rights holders for the right to charge their customers to access those channels and programming. All RTÉ is seeking is that the same capacity to negotiate is allowed in law for its channels and programming."

On claims of ‘Double-taxation’:

"The ’double-taxation’ argument is misleading. In fact, any ‘double taxation’ of licence fee payers is on the part of pay-TV operators who are asking their customers to pay for access to free-to-air channels as part of their subscription. The current legislation is creating a situation where publicly funded media and indeed TV licence fee payers are indirectly subsidising the commercial activities of hugely profitable international media companies in the Irish market. So, licence fee payers are underwriting and subsidising these profitable platforms because you can’t get RTÉ channels without paying for a bundle. By changing the legislation, RTÉ will have the opportunity to negotiate a fair payment for the value we create for Pay TV operators through our original content."

On the dangers of black-outs:

"The notion of black-outs is a red herring and it is a concern that platforms are talking about blackouts at this early stage when we haven’t had any discussion about fair value which the proposed legislative amendment is all about. The obligation to avoid blackouts is on both parties. RTÉ is not seeking anydiminution on its obligations to be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory in its dealings with Pay TV Platforms, but simply to level the playing field for negotiations. While RTÉ is universally available for all Irish audiences on Saorview and OTT via the RTÉ Player, we are certainly not in favour of any disruption in service on Pay TV platforms which we don’t believe is in anybody’s interests. In any case, there are existing mechanisms that can be used to mediate between platforms where necessary. However, using these mechanisms would be very much a last resort.

On raising commercial revenue:

"As Ireland’s national public service media, and a not-for-profit organisation, RTÉ is legally required to raise commercial revenue to fund the delivery of our services to the Irish public. RTÉ channels and the original Irish content we create for our channels generate significant value for pay-TV operators and RTÉ is simply looking for the ability to negotiate fair value for our content to protect investment in indigenous programmes."

On the relationship with Pay TV operators:

"RTE has strong relationships with Pay TV operators and other platforms in the Irish market. So, there is no hostility between RTE and platforms. This is just about getting value, on behalf of the licence fee payer, for the content we produce so that RTÉ can reinvest in original Irish content. As per the legislation, RTÉ’s dealings with Pay TV operators and other platforms will continue to be ‘fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory’".

On the TV3 position:

"Given that they would stand to benefit from the legislative change proposed by RTÉ, TV3’s position around retransmission fees is interesting, particularly given the position of ITV and Channel 4 in the UK. Perhaps, if they had a different owner they would express a different view."

Ends

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