IBI calls for action as 2fm listeners drop

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland are wanting a change to the way public money is spent after 2fm’s latest JNLR.

They say 2FM’s listenership hit an all-time low today while public money used to support it reaches an all-time high: “at least €11.6 million in 2 years to prop up ailing station” the body says.

They want the new Minister for Communications to urgently address the ‘waste of precious public resources used to prop up RTÉ 2FM’ and ‘ensure that action is taken to support real public service broadcasting.’

The quarterly JNLR report shows that RTÉ radio has 1.216 million listeners on a daily basis, included in this figure is the listenership of the pop music station 2FM which has dropped to 366,000 daily listeners. This is in comparison with the combined independent radio stations across the country which is 2.482 million listeners every day.

The IBI says that while the JNLR figures show that the public has “voted with its ears” in relation to 2FM, the RTÉ Annual Reports for 2012 – 2013 show for the first time the real cost to the public of 2FM.

“For many years RTÉ’s way of reporting obscured the public money used to subsidise 2FM and the line from RTÉ was always that the station was not in receipt of any license fee money,” said Lisa Ní Choisdealbha, Executive Director of the IBI. “It is only recently that we have been able to isolate the amounts of license fee money that RTÉ is using to prop up 2FM.”

IBI says that recent RTÉ Annual Reports show that 2FM received at least €11.6 million between 2012 and 2013.

“2FM is the ‘elephant in the room’ when it comes to policy decisions regarding the maintenance of a sustainable future for Irish radio broadcasting – whether State or independently owned”, said Lisa Ní Choisdealbha. “Alex White, the new Minister must act. For too long 2FM has had the best of all possible worlds, acting like a ruthless commercial operator when it suits its purposes and hiding behind RTÉ’s convenient cloak of a being a ‘public service broadcaster’ when it needs the money to keep going . We are calling on the Minister to sensibly limit the currently unrestrained commercial mandate of RTÉ, which see tens of millions of euro poured into Montrose every year. 2FM is the most egregious example of this and the Government must address this while also ensuring the future of independent radio is secured.”

“The fact that the policy framework underpinning the current broadcasting regime in this country is unsustainable is acknowledged by politicians on all sides. It gives an unfair advantage to RTÉ, it cannot be justified and it needs to change. We have been exceedingly patient over the last number of years and have sought to engage in constructive dialogue with successive Ministers. Unfortunately it seems to have gotten us nowhere with the Government content to ‘kick the proverbial can down the road’. We are losing patience and are will be ‘upping the ante’ over the coming months.”

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