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Forget about the London-centric BBC, it's time we established a Northern Ireland state broadcaster

Why would anyone be surprised that the BBC didn't think to include Northern Ireland sportsmen and women among those nominated for its Sports Personality of the Year?

It's a London-centric organisation, set up to propagate the city's views on "national" issues and is staffed almost exclusively by white, middle-class Oxbridge males.

No one complains that the BBC's nightly review of the "national" newspapers never includes editors, reporters, or public relations folk from Northern Ireland, or the other devolved nations, do they?

There is a strong case to be made that the television licence fee for Northern Ireland should be collected by the Northern Ireland Executive to fund our own Northern Ireland state broadcaster.

RTE's 2015 annual report reveals that the state broadcaster raised €334.3m total revenue, ie €178.9m from the licence fee (out of a total licence fee of €214m) and €166.4m from associated commercial revenues.

If the Northern Ireland Executive collected the £145.50 television licence fee from the estimated 738,800 households in Northern Ireland, then this would raise an estimated £107,495,400 revenue, which could be doubled to around £215m by expected commercial revenues.

Allowing for the current exchange rate, this would fund a Northern Ireland broadcaster on a par with the Republic of Ireland's RTE and support direct employment of some 1,988 jobs and 4,710 hours of programming in conjunction with independent sector, as achieved by RTE.

And, if the Executive could get their finger out to implement this achievable goal, then maybe our sports stars would get the media coverage they deserve.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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