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Fine Gael pushes for TV licence to be replaced with public service media charge 


Richard Bruton

Richard Bruton

Richard Bruton

Fine Gael is pushing for the TV licence to be scrapped and replaced with a public service media charge for all households and businesses.

In its submission to the Future of the Media Commission, the party recommends that the fee of €160 should be scrapped and consolidated through other taxes, such as the local property tax, commercial rates or VAT.

The ‘public service media charge’ would also see the funds going not just RTÉ, but regional radio stations and local newspapers.

Former Minister for Communications Richard Bruton said that around 15pc of people do not pay the license fee, which is based on the ownership of a television, even though they have a television.

A further 10pc do not have a television, meaning that 25pc of possible revenue is lot.

“This would be a simple, straightforward, €160 from every household.

“It could be done through local property tax and rates in terms of commercial users or it could be done through a small increase in VAT. The key is that it doesn’t have that very high evasion rate,” he said.

Deputy Bruton said that this would generate a fund of €50m to €70m.

Senator Jerry Buttimer said that local media outlets have been vital to keeping the public informed during the pandemic.

“If you look at the pandemic, Government used our local media and local newspapers as that trusted source to give that kind of information.”

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He said that local radio stations already engage in public service broadcasting, through reporting community, death notices, local council reports or on matches.

Deputy Bruton said that the money generated from the reformed charge would be dispersed by the Future of the Media Commission, who will decide “who should get what”.

“They would be looking at contribution to public service media, originality of content, quality of content, reliability.

“These sorts of things would be the criteria.”

The Commission is chaired by former DCU President Prof Brian MacCraith, who is also the head of the vaccine rollout taskforce.


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