RTÉ has told a Dáil committee that there is no sustainable future for the organisation and many of its key partners that rely on its capacity to invest, without a reformed public funding model.

Director of Strategy Rory Coveney was speaking to the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media, which is meeting today to discuss the long-term vision for the media sector in television and film.

Mr Coveney said the current licence fee system is losing in excess of €65m per year and it is continuing to get worse.

He said the Future of Media Commission recommended RTÉ's core remit remain largely as it is.

Mr Coveney said that the scope of what RTÉ is being asked to do by Government is remaining the same, which has implications for cost and human resources. He also said the dual funding model is not changing.

Alan Esslemont of TG4 said the future of the Irish language depends on the Dáil and on the State placing the combatting of 'language shift' and 'language diversity action' at the centre of its efforts.

He said even more awareness must be raised about the "definite endangerment" of the Irish language as a threatened minority language and the need to safeguard Irish as our thriving indigenous language.

Mr Esslemont said Irish language media is a core element in the combat against language shift and the maintenance of linguistic diversity

Increase in Irish feature film activity

Desiree Finnegan of Screen Ireland said that in recent years, there has been extensive growth in both local and international production and that from 2019 to 2021, local Irish feature film activity increased by 52% and local TV drama production spend increased by 40%.

Irish animation also experienced rapid growth.

Ms Finnegan said Irish creative screen content has also generated a substantial contribution to the economy, providing significant employment and world-class skills development.

She said following the success of the Cine4 scheme in supporting Irish language film, a similar approach is being explored for Irish language TV drama.

Paul Farrell of Virgin Media called for a new single digital platform and said a balanced playing field is needed in the industry to reflect changes in technology and viewer behaviour.

Meanwhile, the technical group set up to examine reform of the television licence fee will report to Minister Catherine Martin in the coming months.

The minister today announced an action plan for the implementation of the Future of Media Commission recommendations.

Last year, the Government accepted 49 of the commission's 50 recommendations, but rejected the recommendation to replace the licence fee with a new funding model.

It then set up a technical working group to examine reform of the fee, which had been due to report back last November.

Minister Martin said today that the group would report in the first quarter of this year.

Other recommendations that will now be implemented under the new action plan include the development of equality, diversity and inclusion standards by Coimisiún na Meán, a comprehensive review of Irish language services across the entire media sector and a new media fund.

Musical 'may come back in some form' - Coveney

Mr Coveney said Toy Show the Musical may come back in some form next year.

He told the committee that RTÉ did not sell as many tickets to the show as it wanted, but the reaction from the audience was fantastic, particularly from children.

In response to a question from Senator Michael Carrigy, Mr Coveney said the show was not positioned against pantos, but against big international shows that come from Broadway or London.

The organisation's director of strategy said it may have to rethink the size and scope of the show, but there is something there to be built on.

He said like all creative projects it is being reviewed and it may well be suited to being staged before the Toy Show rather than afterwards, but that no firm decisions have been made.

Mr Coveney said the show was in gestation for three years and employed 100 people across the creative sector.

Regional development

Senator Fintan Warfield asked what can be done to support audio visual production in the regions.

Alan Esslemont of TG4 said TG4 has a strong dedication to the regions but he said if you are in Dublin its easier to 'grow scale', adding that a spotlight on the development of the industry in the regions is needed.

He said the 'regional uplift' tax credit scheme is coming to an end at the end of this year and this will have a negative impact on any company trying to grow scale in the regions. He said that TG4 hopes to discuss the matter with the Department of Finance.

Desiree Finnegan of Screen Ireland said its 2023 budget allocated €3.5m specifically for regional activity and they said they have also launched talent academies in Limerick and Galway. She said SI is working with stakeholders across the regions to discuss what would be the most appropriate policy intervention to encourage production outside the main hubs.