A rural independent TD has called in the Dáil for the licence fee to be spread around other organisations, including VIrgin Media and Gript, to end what he calls RTÉ’s “monopoly” on funding.

“I want to talk about the broadcasting aspect of the Bill,” said Cork South-West TD Michael Collins during a Dáil debate on the Planning and Development, Heritage and Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2021.

“The State must change how our main broadcaster works and the monopoly on funding that exists. RTÉ commands the full licence fee, which gives it tens of millions of euro, but will not put out a fair and balanced programme one day after another.”

Collins particularly hit out at RTÉ’s coverage of the Climate Bill, which he described as “unfair.”

“In its reports on the climate action Bill that went through the Dáil last week, RTÉ had speaker after speaker on television and radio, all of whom were “Yes” people. The Rural Independent Group is the only group in the House that has raised concerns about the provisions of that Bill and we were not allowed a minute to voice them on any programme.

“This raises a very serious question about the fairness of our national broadcaster on this and other issues. I have been inundated with calls, emails and texts from a public furious at the way RTÉ has been allowed to carry on.”

At this point, the Deputy called for the license fee to “spread out” to other media providers, listing several examples.

“Today is a turning point. The Rural Independent Group will make sure we call out this disgraceful carry-on. The only way that the tables will turn in a fair and distributive way is if the television licence money is spread out to other media providers, including Virgin Media, Gript and local radio stations and newspapers.

“The situation of local radio stations has been raised before in the House. In Cork, we have C103, RedFM and 96FM. They are fabulous radio stations that get very little of the funding they need from the State. We also have local newspapers, including the Southern Star and The Echo.

“Perhaps the television licence should be renamed the television, radio and newspaper licence and the fees distributed fairly. The State’s money should be spent in a fair and proper way as we move forward. We cannot continue to fund a State broadcaster that decides to keep out one side of a story and has no fair balance.”