Inspections prompt 20,000 extra households to get TV licences
Around 20,000 extra households bought TV licences in 2017 due to ramped up inspections and a public awareness campaign.
Communications Minister Denis Naughten said he had been focused on improving current TV licence fee compliance rates as he considered proposals for a new household broadcasting charge.
Mr Naughten said that additional inspectors were appointed last year, which contributed to increased compliance. An advertising campaign highlighting the penalties for non-payment of the €160 fee was also cited as a reason for more people paying.
Figures for sales of the TV licence up to the end of November 2017 show an average of 1,742 additional sales per month over those made in 2016. That would amount to an additional €3.3m if borne out over the full 12 months.
An Oireachtas Communications Committee report published in November described the current TV licence funding model as "not fit for purpose".
It recommended a new broadcasting charge to be collected by the Revenue Commissioners which would also cover households that don't have a TV but use other devices, such as tablets.
Mr Naughten's officials are examining the report and are to report back to him shortly. He said complex legislation would be required to switch the collection system from An Post to the Revenue. He didn't rule out the introduction of a new form of a household broadcasting charge. He said such a charge would increase the collection rate and there would be "no justification" for maintaining the cost of the new fee at €160.
He predicted that 2018 would be a "challenging year" for licence-fee funded RTÉ amid its financial difficulties, and said it was important to support public service broadcasting. He said director general Dee Forbes was determined to see funding from the sale of land at RTÉ's headquarters invested in the broadcaster's digital platform.