Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
20. Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has received accounts from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and if he has considered any requests on the levy on broadcasters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44846/10]
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Eamon Ryan): The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) Annual Report and Accounts for 2009 have not yet been submitted to my Department. The delay in submitting the Report and Accounts is due to a delay in the completion of the audit of the Accounts by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG). The BCI submitted draft financial statements to the C&AG in late January 2010 and at that time, the C&AG indicated that some additional work would be required to complete the audit and that this work would not be undertaken until later in the year. The C&AG is expected to issue its final report to the now established Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) on the 13th December 2010. This will allow the BAI to finalise the content of the report and formally submit the report to my Department.
Section 33 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 provides for the BAI to make on order imposing a levy on broadcasters for the purposes of meeting the expenses of the Authority and its Committees in undertaking the performance of its statutory functions. This is a responsibility that has been placed on the Authority by the Oireachtas. The Act also provides that any unspent levy income in a given year can be refunded to the industry. In addition, the Authority, in accordance with Section 37(1) of the Broadcasting Act 2009, is obliged to submit estimates of income and expenditure to the Minister in respect of the next three financial years.
In relation to the estimates for the period 2011-2013, I can confirm that these estimates were submitted to my Department by the Authority on 29th October 2010. My Department is now engaging with the Authority in relation to the provision of certain further information in accordance with the provisions of Section 37(1) of the Broadcasting Act 2009.
In relation to publication, the legislation requires that, subject to the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, the Authority shall publish its 3-year estimates or a summary of them on a website maintained by the Authority. I am very much aware that both public and commercial broadcasters will be keen to view the Authority’s expenditure proposals as early as possible because of their implications for the industry in terms of the levy. It is my intention to facilitate this as much as practicable. I have been informed by the Authority that it is keenly aware of the need to minimise the burden on industry, and is continually reviewing all expenditure to ensure that it represents value for money.
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