Sunday 25 August 2019

Plan for taxman to collect RTÉ licence fee wrong - Healy-Rae

Michael Healy-Rae Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Michael Healy-Rae Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Alan O'Keeffe

The replacement of the TV licence fee with a household charge to cover all broadcast devices has been recommended by an Oireachtas committee.

The Revenue Commissioners should take over collecting the new charge, according to a report by the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten said he will bring proposals to Cabinet in the new year.

However, some TDs criticised giving responsibility for collecting the licence fee to Revenue with Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae saying it was "completely wrong" to give the role to the taxman.

But the chairperson of the committee, Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, said a Revenue collection system would help eliminate the current 15pc licence evasion rate.

The extra €30m collected would help local radio and regional media outlets, she said.

She told this newspaper later that consideration could be given to funding struggling media outlets that provide public service information, such as local newspapers with websites.

Funding other media outlets, such as commercial television, could also be "explored" in the context of them providing a public service, she said.

The report stated all references in legislation to "public service broadcasting" should be changed to "public service media".

The report follows an examination of the funding needed for stations to fulfil their public service objectives, the licence fee, and access to advertising revenue at a time when increasing levels of advertising revenue is going to Google and Facebook and subscription charges to Netflix, Sky and Virgin.

The report also recommended that concessions currently available to social welfare recipients be retained in any new funding system and that all households should be subject to the charge, not just those with a traditional TV set.

It also said all money raised in the new collection strategy should be given to a diversity of existing and new media sources in a fair manner.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section