Tuesday 24 October 2017

Turn on, tune in and pay up

Gavin Coleman
Gavin Coleman
Three-year old Marion and dad John Davy on their family farm with pet rabbits and, right, Lucy Davy.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte: new Public Service Broadcasting Charge to replace the television licence fee next year.
Alex Scade

The new Public Service Broadcasting Charge will replace the TV licence fee and will affect every home from next year. It is designed to take account of the growing number of people who view content on computers or mobile devices. It will apply regardless of whether you actually have a television, computer or any other device. Here, we meet three households living without television who have been told they'll have to pay

The Family: 'We decided to raise our children without TV' 

A FAMILY living their lives off the grid, foregoing modern conveniences including television, were surprised to be told they will be liable for the broadcasting charge.

Lucy and John Davy are rearing their four children, Jonathan (10), Bethlehem (7), Bede, (6) and Marion (3), without TV or even a washing machine or fridge. They have a computer, but as they live without mains electricity it is used only in emergencies.

However, they will still be hit with the charge of up to €160 if it comes in next year.

"We made the decision to bring the children up without TV. I grew up without it and, while I never thought I'd do the same to my children, it just happened," said Lucy.

The couple run Farmyard In Your Schoolyard from their smallholding near Lough Bo, Geevagh, Co Sligo. They said the new charge would be "a significant" hit to their annual budget and they called for exemptions in cases like theirs.

"We have a computer but as we get our electricity from solar panels we only use it when we have to," she said.

"We understand charges like the household charge, even though we don't get many of the services out here.

But we use the libraries and public parks so we pay it. But with this new charge we get no benefit," she added.

Over the years the couple have received a number of letters regarding their lack of a TV licence. But after replying that they have never owned a TV, no further action was taken. They are now considering writing to the broadcasting authority requesting an exemption to the new charge.



The Student: 'If fee went towards improving programmes it would make sense'

GAVIN Coleman has never owned a television, so he is "not happy" with the new Public Service Broadcasting Charge.

The 22-year-old PhD student, based in Dublin, has little or no interest in television. "I have been avoiding it for the last four years. Even when I want to use a games console, I would rather just use a PC monitor and avoid the charge of a TV licence," he said.

"I actually had a friend who, when we went house hunting together, would look for a house without a television. He would say 'a house with a television isn't a social house'," he added.

The Carlow native uses the internet and online streaming websites if he wants to watch a movie.

He strongly disagrees with the charge and finds it to be unjustifiable against the quality of programming available. He feels the UK licence fee is more justifiable because "the BBC has really good, high-quality shows, without adverts".

He feels if the new charge was funnelled into improving programming and developing new technology, "it would make sense, it would be an easier pill to swallow".



The Recluse: 'I don't think I'm missing out without modern appliances  

A MAN who lives without a TV, computer or even electricity in his isolated home has slated the controversial new broadcasting charge as unfair and undemocratic.

Alex Scade lives in Allihies on the rugged Beara Peninsula in west Cork where he has devoted his life to nature and running a sanctuary for injured wild animals.

Alex's lighting is provided by candles. He cooks on a gas hob and heats his home with a solid fuel stove. "I don't think I am missing out on anything without modern appliances," he says.

But Alex is furious at Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte and the broadcasting charge.

"Of course it is unfair. Why should I have to pay a broadcasting charge when I don't have anything to broadcast with?" he said.

Alex is particularly annoyed because every cent of his small income is invested in helping the animals that he has devoted his life to.

"I don't know what this broadcasting charge is going to be, but whatever it costs it would pay for a good bit of feed for my animals," he said.


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