Dáil committee calls for levy on streaming platforms to fund Irish content

The move has been welcomed by Screen Producers Ireland, who said it could raise €23 million in additional funding for Irish productions.
Dáil committee calls for levy on streaming platforms to fund Irish content

James Ward, PA

A levy on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime should be introduced to fund independent Irish productions, a Dáil committee has recommended.

The move has been welcomed by Screen Producers Ireland, who say it could a raise a minimum of €23 million in additional funding for the creation of original Irish content.

The report by the Oireachtas Committe on Media also recommends the creation of an Online Safety Commissioner post, with powers to police and regulate harmful content on social media platforms.

 

Committee chair, Fianna Fáil TD Niamh Smyth, said the new legislation would “place Ireland among the first countries in the world to provide systemic regulation of online platforms”.

Screen Producers Ireland CEO Susan Kirby said: “The Oireachtas Media Committee has shown strong, cross-party support today for the Irish independent production sector by not only recommending a new content levy on online media services, but also clearly stating that it should only be accessed by the Irish independent production sector.

“This levy, which would be no extra cost to the exchequer, has been identified by (economic consultants) Indecon that it could raise a minimum of €23 million in additional funding for the creation of original Irish content.

“We are grateful to the Committee for taking our concerns into consideration ahead of the development of this report and look forward to further engagement with them over the coming months as the legislation to introduce the levy, along other measures, is debated in the Oireachtas.

“SPI’s focus now is the introduction of the content levy without delay so that new funding possibilities for Irish producers to create original Irish content for Irish, and international audiences, happen.”

The committee has recommended the measure not be introduced until its viability can be researched and reviewed by the Media Commission.

The recommendations were made in the Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2020, published on Tuesday.

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A levy on online streaming platforms could raise €23 million for Irish productions (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Ms Smyth said: “We call for an individual complaints mechanism to be established for designated online platforms, for an Online Safety Commissioner to be explicitly included in the legislation, for designated online platforms to be required to provide data for public interest research, and for children’s navigation of online spaces to be protected so as not to render them vulnerable to data profiling or to harmful advertisements.

“At the forefront of the Committee’s approach to this pre-legislative scrutiny process was the Irish citizen.

“Our 33 recommendations champion effective and robust measures to deliver an optimal regulatory framework for the online environment and overarching mediascape insofar as these fall within the scope of the Bill.”

The Bill would also require social media platforms provide a quarterly report to the Media Commission on their complaints handling.

It would introduce a minimum age requirement for children to create accounts on designated online services and introduce a ban on advertising to children online, with junk food, advertising, alcohol and gambling specifically outlined.

Disinformation and financial harm, including online gambling, would be designated as “harmful content” under the Bill.

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