I welcome the Minister and congratulate him on his new post. I speak today to represent the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, IBI, which was my nominating body. The IBI represents the two national, four regional, one multi-city and 27 local commercial radio stations throughout Ireland. The mission of the IBI is to promote a strong and vibrant radio sector which reflects the preferences and needs of the listening public.
Independent broadcasters make a significant contribution to the Irish economy and to the social and cultural life of the country. Listenership to independent broadcasting in Ireland has never been stronger. In excess of 70% of the Irish population, some 2.5 million people, tune in to independent radio on a daily basis, which clearly shows the value listeners place on independent programming. Local independent radio connects many of our citizens with their local communities. We should not underestimate the positive impact of this. It is a vital service that we should support. Independent radio provides a valuable public service to Irish radio listeners and is currently funded entirely from the sale of advertising and sponsorship.
The IBI has been campaigning for a fair and equitable system of funding for public service broadcasting. The introduction of the new public service broadcasting charge will result in additional revenue being collected for the purpose of funding public service broadcasting. I ask the Minister to consider allocating a portion of this funding to the IBI.