Thursday 14 November 2019

High levels of TV licence evasion continue as RTÉ cuts jobs – Dáil told

Fianna Fail’s Dara Calleary (Niall Carson/PA)
Fianna Fail’s Dara Calleary (Niall Carson/PA)
John Downing

John Downing

Ireland has the highest rate of television licence evasion in Europe with one in seven people not paying their share, the Dáil has been told.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary was speaking following the revelations of major cuts and job losses in RTÉ in plans aiming to save €60m over the next three years.

“We need an independent media and public service broadcasting are very important part of that equation. That part of the equation is one that is taken most for granted, particularly by Government,” Mr Calleary said.

The Mayo TD said a range of cuts, including 200 redundancies notified to staff, by leaks to newspapers late last night.

He accused the Government of having its head in the sand and said there had been a “substantial lack of engagement from Government about RTÉ’s funding model and licensing system.”

Replying for Government Tánaiste Simon Coveney,  said Communications Minister Richard Bruton received the final report on the RTÉ cuts proposals only this morning.

Mr Coveney also said that his brother works in RTÉ and was involved in the restructuring proposals.  He wanted to put that on the record.

The Tánaiste said the Government had an idea of the cuts that were coming down the road.  Independent public broadcasting of domestic and international affairs was absolutely crucial for any functioning democracy, he said.

The Government would consider the restructuring in detail and would work with RTE. “We will play our part from a policy point of view but we also expect RTE to evolve and make the decisions they need to respond to consumer approaches.

Mr Calleary said that Ireland has the highest TV licence evasion rate in Europe at 14pc.  “Eleven per cent don’t pay the licence at all which is another €20 million,” he added.

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