Thursday 22 February 2018

Why RTÉ boss Dee Forbes is calling for an increase in licence fee

Dee Forbes Director General of RTE. Photo: David Conachy.
Dee Forbes Director General of RTE. Photo: David Conachy.
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes has argued for a review and an increase of the TV licence fee.

Ms Forbes told an Oireachtas Committee uncertainty surrounding reform of the TV licence system is making it "impossible" for RTÉ to plan ahead for the next year.

Ms Forbes said if the TV licence fee kept pace with the rate of inflation, it would now be at €175 as opposed to the current price of €160. This would mean an additional €15m in revenue for RTÉ.

"The cost of the TV licence fee hasn't been increased in a decade and this is unlike virtually every other public or private utility to keep pace of inflation.

"Stamps have increased in price, newspapers, private TV subscriptions, phone bills, hospital fees, electricity bills, broadband, bus fares, almost everything you can think of - why not the TV licence?"

She added: "If the TV licence fee had simply kept pace with inflation since it was last raised - as it is supposed to do as set out in legislation - the TV licence fee today would be €175 per household per year or 47c a day. Still just over a quarter of the cost of a national newspaper."

Ms Forbes told the committee reform of the TV licence system is the "responsibility of the minister, the Government and the house. RTÉ cannot fix it. And we are reliant on it for over 50pc of our revenue.

"Some commentators seem to think that we shouldn't continue to advocate for reform of the TV licence system even though everyone knows.... that it is fundamentally broken".

In March, Ms Forbes suggested that the TV licence fee could be doubled before backtracking on the idea, saying it "wasn't practical".

Communications Minister Denis Naughten ruled out a substantial hike to the fee.

RTÉ's revenue from the licence fee has fallen from €440m in 2008 to €330m last year.

Irish Independent

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