Saturday 23 September 2017

An Post to fight for TV licence contract

'It is understood that An Post will argue that it needs access to more data in order to clamp down on evasion.'
'It is understood that An Post will argue that it needs access to more data in order to clamp down on evasion.'
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

An Post will fight to retain the contract to collect the TV licence fee, which is expected to be put out to tender after legislative changes.

At least two commercial operators are also likely to vie for the contract, with services company Capita and Abtran in Cork understood to be interested in tender for the contract.

The Office of Government Procurement published a request for information on television licence fee collection services on behalf of the Department of Communications and the deadline passed on Friday. This was seen as the first step in wresting away control of the licence fee contract from An Post.

The chief executive of An Post, David McRedmond, confirmed that An Post would be seeking to continue the collection of the licence fee. An Post, which is working on plans to address serious financial issues at the organisation, receives €12.5m for the TV licence collection.

RTE has long sought for the service to be put out to tender over the high level of licence fee evasion in Ireland. Although An Post has modernised its licence-fee collection service, adding online capabilities and extended the hours of inspectors, the level of evasion has remained high.

Evasion is at around 15pc and is costing the broadcasting sector up to €40m a year.

RTE receives around €180m of the money collected annually, while €14m goes into a broadcasting fund for the independent sector.

It is understood that An Post will argue that it needs access to more data in order to clamp down on evasion. The Government has already flagged plans to require pay-TV operators such as Sky and Virgin Media to provide subscriber data to the licence fee collection body.

Changes to broadcasting legislation are being prepared by Communications Minister Denis Naughten. Other measures being considered is the introduction of re-transmission fees, which would allow RTE to charge platforms for carrying its stations.

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