Wednesday 22 October 2014

Short-changed by RTE's licence to print money

Published 27/09/2013 | 05:00

RTE Director-General Noel Curran is seeking a hike in the TV licence fee

RTE Director-General Noel Curran claims the current annual €160 licence fee is "too low", is below the European average and that it is "much higher" in most other European countries – the grown-up equivalent of 'all the other kids have them, so why can't I?'

So the time has come to put this particular myth to bed once and for all. Out of 38 countries in continental Europe (including Russia) 14 have no TV licence, while data is not available for two states. Of the remaining 22, some countries have much higher licence fees – for example, Germany at €215, Switzerland at €385, and Denmark at €303. But many countries have much lower fees – for example, the Czech Republic at €65, Italy at €113, Poland at €52, and Albania at just €5. Averaging out all the licence-fee paying countries, we see that the fee is €145.

If we include the countries where no licence fee is paid, we see the European average is just €89 per annum. So, no, the Irish licence fee is not "quite low" compared to the European average. If RTE want more money to produce more boring talk shows and reality cookery programmes, no doubt they will get it.

If the communications minister decides to introduce a universal broadcasting charge to make up the shortfall in those who evade the licence, no doubt the final result will defy logic and not be cheaper than at present.

Fine, just shake us little leprechauns hard until we reveal the whereabouts of our crocks of gold, and have done with it. But please stop insulting our intelligence by thinking we don't know what happens beyond our borders.

Nick Folley

Carrigaline, Co Cork

PUTTING THE WIND UP...

* Our family is living with the prospect of a wind turbine being placed 500 metres from our home. This, according to the founder of renewable energy firm Mainstream, Eddie O'Connor is a reasonable distance. This may be true if they were still only 80 metres tall.

However, they are now 150 to 186 metres tall. So how can this be reasonable? Politicians seem to be the only ones distancing themselves from this topic.

At this stage I would be delighted to be in negative equity; if these things go ahead, I would be in zero equity. How is this fair? My children will have zero inheritance.

My only recourse will be to stop paying my mortgage, as politicians and bankers only seem to emerge from their slumber when people threaten to withhold their mortgages.

By the way Phil Hogan, will my property tax be zero on my unsellable house? I can tell you now Mr Hogan, you can whistle for that.

C Cunningham

Co Offaly

IT'S A MAD, MAD WORLD

* It just seems to get madder and madder doesn't it.

Regarding the latest twist in the Anglo saga, surely the relevant questions are pretty straightforward:

Was the Anglo 'arse picking' exercise part of a deliberate deception designed to hoodwink the Central Bank? Did this contribute significantly towards massive additional debt having to be foisted on the taxpayer?

Did this deliberately deceptive strategy materially contribute to the subsequent imposition of widespread austerity driven and potentially dangerous income cuts and additional taxes?

Can it be shown that any Irish citizens were actually harmed in any way as a result of such deceptive tactics?

We already know that austerity has forced thousands to leave private health insurance. This will inevitably cause additional casualties as a result of overloading an already struggling public health system.

Among the many already affected will also be some particularly vulnerable ill and elderly, some of whom will probably suffer from the loss of their fuel allowance.

This will be one obvious and inescapable result of taking the new property tax, water tax and all the other cuts and taxes from single, small fixed incomes.

Increasing numbers of citizens are coming to the end of their physical, financial and, in some cases, mental tethers.

But if yet another lengthy investigation is simply going to result in a long, drawn-out gold rush for a privileged few then perhaps the biting of yet another bitter bullet might be the best course of action. Pragmatism can be very painful, but we already owe too much.

George MacDonald

Gorey, Co Wexford

* If Patrick Honohan thinks that the strategic mortgage defaulter idea is bogus, why didn't he say this before now?

It is not acceptable for him to be purely reactive (to questions by the Finance Committee). He must be proactive.

Brendan Casserly

Abbeybridge, Cork

* The Irish people were resigned to the fact that nobody would ever be prosecuted for the financial chaos that was brought upon our country and left it where it is now. But we do expect the mistakes to be used as some precedent to make sure this egregiousness never has to be addressed again.

Then I read in your newspaper yesterday about the Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan yet again bemoaning how the banks in Ireland are a lawless bunch. And then Mr Honohan admitted he has not listened to a full set of the Anglo Tapes, which are there as a guidebook on how not to run an institution.

Recently, I spoke to a colleague in the financial industry who had never heard of the Enron scandal. This to me was shocking. The world should never forget how Enron corrupted corporate America.And it should be remembered that it was one reporter – Bethany McLean – who refused to believe Enron's shiny success story. Mr Honohan, at least have the decency to try to learn from the past.

Darren William

Sandyford, Dublin 18

HITTING TROIKA TARGETS

* There seems to be unending discussion about the amount of 'savings' to be achieved in the upcoming Budget, with a key figure of €3.1bn being used.

What seems to be ignored is the budget deficit to GDP ratio. The 2014 deficit target set by the troika is 5.1pc of GDP. This is the important figure, not €3.1bn, €2.5bn or whatever figure in-between. If we meet, or better this target then we have met the target set by the troika. End of story.

Tim O'Sullivan

Liskillen, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo

POINT OF PRINCIPLE

* Lucinda Creighton voted against Enda Kenny because his proposal was not part of the Fine Gael election manifesto. She now wants us to vote against a proposal that was part of the manifesto. Am I very cynical to think that this cherry-picking of what policies she will support has cash as its root cause. Maybe not, after all her recent stand was based on principles. Cynical old me.

Vincent Ryan

Navan, Co Meath

OUT IN THE COLD

* Those who sit near the big table feel the warmth of the ruler's fire. He may scold them, but banish them? Never. NAMA was set up to hot-house and protect the wealthy. They even paid some debtors €200,000 a year.

Meanwhile, a family in Cork have the bailiffs at the door. They are going to be evicted. They owe money but nothing like the debt the builders, bookies and auctioneers along with politicians left us with.

Local gardai gather like the old RIC, while the brains in garda HQ cannot figure out how to charge a single thief who looted the nation.

The little blonde guy who exited Croke Park last Sunday like a fly from a fire might look at the plight of those people whose only sin was to lose their job and fall into house arrears. Something needs to be done.

John Cuffe

Co Meath

Irish Independent

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