Monday 22 July 2019

New €160 broadcast charge delayed until after election

TV (Stock image)
TV (Stock image)
John Downing

John Downing

The Government will tomorrow finally decide that the €160 household broadcast charge will not happen this side of a general election.

Instead reports to government on broadcast funding and RTE’s financial difficulties will focus on efforts to reduce the €30m being lost each year to television licence dodgers.

The so-called broadcast charge is seen as the inevitable replacement for the television licence which is being rapidly overtaken by computer technology. The new charge was to be a blanket levy on all houses - while the current licence, which continues in place, is based on houses with televisions.

Earlier this year Communications Minister Alex White conceded that the broadcast charge could not go ahead on top of local property tax and the controversial water charges. “Government is still committed to the principle of the broadcast charge. But more time will be needed to build better public support for the measure,” one source told the Irish Independent.

Well-placed sources last night said that a report by consultants Indecon on the public broadcast sector and advertising will be considered by government.  A second report will focus on ways for RTE to deal with their financial problems.

Proposals include looking at better use of the Montrose headquarters of the public service broadcaster in Dublin. There is no recommendation to sell the landmark site but there are proposals to better use it.

Efforts to clamp down on licence dodgers include legislation being brought forward by Mr White to give more records of multi-channel television subscribers, like UPC and Sky, to An Post who are in charge of licence collection.

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