Business of Joint Committee

I remind members to either turn off their mobile phones or switch them to flight mode as they interfere with the sound system. It is proposed that we follow the following agenda, starting with a public session on the pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2017 and retransmission fees. We will then have a sos of five minutes, followed by a meeting in private session. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The committee considers the funding of public service broadcasting to be one of its priorities this year. I thank the stakeholders, witnesses and members who attended our forum in Dublin Castle last Friday. It was very positive. Today's topic was referred to the committee by the Minister. I welcome all of our witnesses today. From the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Environment we have Ms Patricia Cronin, assistant secretary, and Ms Mary Mooney and Mr. Dualta Ó Broin, assistant principals. We also have Mr. Michael O'Keeffe, chief executive, and Ms Celene Craig, deputy chief executive, from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. From Raidió Teilifís Éireann we have Ms Dee Forbes, director general, Mr. Brian Dalton, managing director of corporate affairs, Ms Aisling McCabe, director of platforms and strategy, Ms Eleanor Bleahene, RTÉ solicitor's office, and Mr. Matthew Horsman and Mr. Paul Fleming. We also have Mr. Pádraig Ó Ciardha, leascheannasaí of TG4. The witnesses' opening statements and presentations have been circulated to the committee and will be published on the committee website after this meeting.

I wish to draw the witnesses' attention to the fact that, by virtue of section 17 (2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. However, if you are directed by the Chairman to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and you continue to do so, you are entitled thereafter until to a qualified privilege in respect of your evidence. The witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given, and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, you should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Any submissions or opening statements made to this committee will be published on the website after this meeting. Members are reminded of the longstanding parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

I will now call on the first witnesses from each organisation. If they wish to have other representatives from their organisations speak, I will let them introduce the speakers in question. Our first witness is Ms Patricia Cronin from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.