Minister for Communications Denis Naughten has said the TV licence is a finite system, but debate is needed over how and what it would be replaced with in the future.

He was speaking at a forum on the Future of Public Service Broadcasting which is taking place in Dublin Castle today, hosted by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Minister Naughten said he does not have a time-line for changing the licence fee, instead he said he has reformed the existing system to give a window of opportunity for the debate on its future to take place.

He said the debate on the funding of public service broadcasting is very important and one people need to look seriously at.

Mr Naughten said he has made it clear that there will be no increase in the current licence fee, but the question is how to maximise the current structure to give the committee time to look to the future.

Earlier speaking to the forum, the minister said public service broadcasters face real and urgent pressures  and that amendments to the existing TV licence fee regime would provide the best chance of stabilising funding in the short term.

Next week the committee will consider legislative proposals to allow the appointment of a licence fee collection agent by public tender, and he said experience in the UK shows that this can significantly reduce evasion.

He also said the independent radio sector has been raising important questions about how public service broadcasting is defined and how it might be supported.

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RTÉ has spoken of the financial strain it is under, with factors including Brexit contributing to a reduction in income. The broadcaster recently sold land at its Donnybrook headquarters for in excess of €107 million, however according to Tom McGuire, head of RTÉ Radio One this money will be used to fund capital projects.

He said the licence fee is still needed in the making of high quality, home produced programmes.

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Tim Collins of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland agreed that a new method of funding public service broadcasting is needed, and said it must be recognised that commercial broadcasters also provide a level of public service broadcasting.

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Following the discussions at today's forum, which was attended by over 100 stakeholders from across the  broadcasting sector, the committee will produce a report on the funding issue for Minister Naughton.