Saturday 1 October 2016

McSavage given second chance to avoid jail after refusing to pay TV licence due to 'awful' RTÉ shows

Martin Grant and Tom Tuite

Published 23/04/2016 | 02:30

McSavage told the court he refuses to pay the fee because he has questions around the standard of the national broadcaster’s shows. Photo: Courts Collins
McSavage told the court he refuses to pay the fee because he has questions around the standard of the national broadcaster’s shows. Photo: Courts Collins

Comedian David McSavage has said he did not pay his TV licence because he had "genuine concerns" about the national broadcaster's use of taxpayers' money.

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The 49-year-old comic, who starred in RTÉ's 'The Savage Eye', appeared in court for not paying the €160 TV licence fee at his address at Kingsland Parade in Dublin 8 on May 7 last year.

He launched a scathing attack on RTÉ, telling the court: "If a plumber provided as poor a service as RTÉ, they would go out of business.

"RTÉ needs to stop embarrassing us with their awful output. It needs to reform, modernise and work harder before it can justify the outrageous high cost of the TV licence.

"Because of this taxpayers' money, RTÉ is denied the opportunity to financially hit rock bottom and learn from their mistakes.

"This is why RTÉ is an institution where people fail upwards and creatives go to die."

Asked if he would work with RTÉ again, he said: "Who knows what the future holds? They should be knocking on my door."

McSavage was given another chance to avoid jail for not paying his TV licence after a judge adjourned the case.

An inspector told the court that he called to McSavage's house last May 7 and found he did not have a TV licence.

The inspector told the court that a current TV licence had been paid on March 31, but that €115 arrears were owed.

Judge John O'Neill said McSavage's reason for not paying the licence fee was not a "legal justification".

McSavage told the court he would pay the arrears and Judge O'Neill adjourned the case until June 16.

He warned McSavage that if the arrears are not paid, he runs the risk of a conviction.

Prior to his appearance in court, McSavage had said he was prepared to take a stance and go to jail in protest at the poor quality of programmes on RTÉ.

However, after the hearing at Dublin District Court, he told reporters: "It is one thing saying it, another thing doing it".

McSavage said that he has not bought a licence and he did not know who had got it for him.

"Unless," he added, "Ray D'Arcy bought one for me, he said he would."

He also said he did not understand what happened during the proceedings in which Judge O'Neill gave McSavage a chance to pay €115 arrears and avoid a hefty fine along with a court conviction.

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, it is a prosecutable offence to be found in possession of an unlicensed television set. Fines for an unlicensed television set can be up to €1,000 for a first offence and €2,000 for subsequent offences.

Irish Independent

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