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Thursday 18 September 2014

New crackdown on TV licence fee evaders to focus on cable and satellite TV subscribers

Published 08/07/2014 | 14:42

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Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte
Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte

Government have approved a new proposal to crackdown on TV licence fee evaders and target cable and satellite TV subscribers.

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The proposal will give An Post access to cable and satellite TV subscription data. The information will be used to identify licence fee evaders.

“Licence fee evasion is an ongoing scourge,” Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said today.

“While in the nature of things it is difficult to be exact, we estimate that it is running at over 15 per cent, which is more than three times the rate in our nearest neighbour.

“This means that around €25 to €30 million of potential revenue is lost annually to RTÉ.”

The minister said that the objective of the TV licence system is to fund public service broadcasting and the revenue lost has an immediate impact of the quality of service provided by RTE.

“Today I secured Government approval for legislation to enable An Post to access the subscription data held by TV service providers, including Sky and UPC,” he said.

“This will allow An Post to cross-check all those households and businesses with cable or satellite TV services against their own database of licence fee payers.”

He added that An Post will have access to the information solely for statutory functions and the commercial confidentiality will be safeguarded.

“I hope that the Bill can be passed and in force by the end of this year and that it will have an immediate impact on the revenues of our public service broadcaster,” Minister Rabbitte said.

“With this proposal, the licence fee inspection and collection system can enter the 21st century.”

UPC has released a statement today to confirm that they will not be in a position to provide subscription data to An Post as it will contravene their data protection guidelines.

"UPC has noted the comments by Minister Rabbitte earlier today.  UPC is not in a position to give An Post access to our cable subscription data because this would contravene our obligations under data protection," a spokesperson for UPC said.

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