Tuesday 20 August 2019

Tax Facebook and Google to fund Irish media, Fianna Fail says

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley. Photo: Tom Burke
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Fianna Fail has re-iterated plans to introduce a new advertising tax on Facebook and Google in Ireland in an effort to “fund” newspapers and radio stations.

The party’s spokesman for Communications, Timmy Dooley, said that money coming from the new levy would also go someway to supplementing the TV licence fee

He said that because advertising income has rapidly shifted to the two online giants, a levy is now needed to support media services here.

“We believe that a levy should be extended to digital advertising so that you ensure that the Googles and Facebooks and Twitters make a contribution to the distortion in the market that they have created,” Mr Dooley said on Newstalk’s ‘Between The Lines’ podcast.

“It’s well recognised that the digital platforms are now hoovering up vast amounts of the commercial revenues that were there to support the independent journalism that existed heretofore.

Mr Dooley added that such a levy should be managed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

“We would also look at extending the remit of the BAI so that it would also be charged with doing similar work with the print sector,” he said.

He said that the current TV licence system should be replaced with a new broadcasting charge attached to every household. Under the current law, an annual TV licence (€160) is only legally required if a television set is on the premises. Other screens such as PC monitors or laptops that can access video content online do not require the purchase of a TV licence

“I would favour the idea of a broadcasting charge that extends to every household,” Mr Dooley said. “It’s not enough to say that just because you don’t have a television that you’re not consuming journalism or content that’s expensive to produce. A lot of people now consume content on iPhones, iPads and laptops. But because the licence is somewhat technology specific, it means they’re able to evade having a licence.”

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