independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Kim Bielenberg: Why the Breaking Bad generation won’t pay Rabbitte’s broadcast charge

Actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul portraying Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in the hit American television series Breaking Bad
Actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul portraying Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in the hit American television series Breaking Bad

It should be called the Breaking Bad levy. Pat Rabbitte wants to put a broadcast charge on every household in the country even if they don’t have a TV set.

I mention the US series, because everyone I know who watches it seems to have downloaded it onto a laptop or tablet.

There is now a growing number of households, where the occupants get by without bothering with conventional terrestrial TV, satellite or over-priced cable packages.

Instead, they grab programmes off Internet TV players, YouTube and through other nefarious means with some device tottering on their knees on a sofa

In theory, Pat Rabbitte’s new broadcast charge will force these internet viewers to pony up around €160 a year.  The charge will replace the TV licence fee.

Good luck to Mr Rabbitte in trying to collect the levy.

If the new broadcast charge follows the TV licence fee model it will be charged to all types of households

These will include apartments full of students, who would sooner slice off their own ear lobes, or hoover the floor for that matter, than pay for any music, film or TV programme.

To this Breaking Bad generation digital piracy is as natural as mother’s milk.

Mr Rabbitte is living in cloud cuckoo land if he believes a house full of students will carefully divvy up their share of the broadcast charge, and forward it to the revenue by return of post.

They never paid the TV licence fee, and I would bet my property tax bill that they won’t pay the broadcast charge, either.

Pat Rabbitte says he will force every household to pay up even if they do not own a “device”.

This seems grossly unfair to the householders who prefer to stay at home listening to Mahler on the gramophone and reading Finnegans Wake than ogling the idiot’s lantern.

Rabbitte makes the dubious assertion that the charge is necessary, because everybody, even those without a set, benefits from “publicly-funded, public service broadcasting”.

But the minister might find that there is a sizeable section of the population who have been able to survive and thrive without the publicly-funded delights of Winning Streak.

I accept that someone has to pay the man or woman who rings the Angelus bell out in Donnybrook, but it makes no sense to charge those who do not even own a TV.

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