If we want public service broadcasting, we are going to have to pay for it.

There’s a lot of bitching going on, in both Ireland and the UK, about the cost of state broadcasters. TV licence fees are high, and both RTE and the BBC can be their own worst enemies when it comes to how they spend their budgets.

Yet the reality is that whatever about the commercial side of RTE and the BBC, producing or buying in programmes pretty much indistinguishable from commercial broadcasters, balanced news and current affairs coverage needs to be subsidised by someone.

I trust RTE and the BBC. Do I see bias sometimes in their stories? Yes. But look at the US. Watch MSNBC or Fox News and tell me that they are less biased. ┬áThe worst development in broadcasting is where people only seek news from sources that confirm their own ideological prejudices, even though it’s a commercially sound approach.

For all his many sins,┬áRupert Murdoch has rightly pointed out that professional news gathering is an expensive business. Someone has to pay for a professional journalist to be where news happens, and in today’s world, where Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy has to count as news to make many news operations commercially viable, where world class newspapers are struggling to stay open and maintain standards, I’ll accept that I have to pay my TV licence fee.

I won’t like it, but it’s the price of balanced news and current affairs.

2 thoughts on “If we want public service broadcasting, we are going to have to pay for it.

  1. Should that not be ” We are going to have to pay for it” as we have not choice in the matter. In the UK the BBC wastes truckloads of money, but hey! its only other peoples money right? BBC America runs adverts on its channel, but some how this is impossible back in the UK. The BBC as double standards and expects UK tax payers to foot their bloated bill. Commercial TV channels send 2 reporters, the BBC send 10 to cover a media story. No we do not want public service broadcasting.


  2. Jason, I don’t mind paying for fair and balanced news/current affair shows or even some Irish docs. But that does not equal E160 a year, plus RTE soaking up all the commercial revenue available, starving private channels of funding and limiting choice in Ireland.

    Should the tax payer be paying for 2FM, RTE2, RTEjr and other entertainment channels that unfairly compete with the limited commercial channels in Ireland? Last year we had the oddity of two state supported broadcasters competing for rugby rights against one private operator. Plus there are countless examples of RTE over purchasing US tv shows and having no time slots to show them, Boston Legal was broadcast at 1am, a prime time show. Starving the private operators in Ireland of quality entertainment, which only benefited SKY.

    In Ireland we get very little unbiased debate on the tv license issue as so many of our journalists work for RTE at some point in their career, even if at a panel discussion level on prime time.

    And you have not raised the issue of RTE competing with traditional news outlets via rte.ie/news which is a disgrace.

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