Tuesday 21 November 2017

Taxpayers to fund €150k review of TV licence fee for RTE and TG4

The RTE building in Montrose
The RTE building in Montrose
Comedian David McSavage, who was fined recently for refusing to pay the €160 licence fee, described the review as 'b******s'
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Taxpayers are to fund a new review of the TV licence system to evaluate how well RTE and TG4 are funded.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has published a tender seeking “a review of the adequacy or otherwise of public funding to enable the public service broadcasters, RTE and TG4, to meet their public service objects”.

A €150,000 budget has been allocated for the review, which is due to start in the second quarter of next year. The final report will not be delivered to the Government until March 2018.

Comedian David McSavage, who was fined for his refusal to pay the €160 licence fee, described the review as “b******s”.

He said RTE was not discerning enough because it was too used to having licence-payer money on tap.

“If a TV show doesn’t work in RTE, people aren’t f**ked out on the street. In some cases they are moved upwards and that’s just sending the message to people that failing is part of the business,” he said of the broadcaster.

“If you’re just getting the licence fee money anyway, you don’t have much respect. The worst thing you could do to me is give me a chunk of money.

“They need to prove themselves and they need to have that hunger and determination.”

Comedian David McSavage, who was fined recently for refusing to pay the €160 licence fee, described the review as 'b******s'
Comedian David McSavage, who was fined recently for refusing to pay the €160 licence fee, described the review as 'b******s'

McSavage, whose show The Savage Eye ran on RTE for four seasons, said he refused to pay the licence fee because of how RTE uses taxpayers’ money.

“I have refused to pay the TV lic-ence fee because of my genuine concerns regarding RTE’s use of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“If a plumber provided as poor a service as RTE, they would go out of business.

“It makes no sense to pay people money who are bad at their jobs. It does neither of you any good. RTE needs to stop embarrassing us with their awful output. It needs to reform, modernise and work hard before it can justify the high cost of the TV licence.”

McSavage has since paid his licence fee because he “did not want to go to jail”.

He is currently working on a script for a film entitled Tank Man, which has been funded by the Irish Film Board.

The comedian is also due to return to the stage in the Olympia in April with his show, The Sacred Cow.

RTE said last night that it is “on record in stating that the current collection system for the television licence fee is inefficient and not fit for purpose and that substantial reform of the public funding mechanism is required”.

“RTE believes that the public funding available to the organisation can be increased without adding to the financial burden on Irish households,” a spokesman said.

“As a creative organisation, RTE is committed to delivering output to the very highest standard. This year alone, in addition to producing a variety of award-winning programming across news and current affairs, drama, comedy, entertainment and factual, quality output has included a range of unique cultural and creative content.”

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