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14th Jul 2022

TV license system to be “overhauled” – but what does it mean for Irish households?

Fiona Frawley

remote control being pointed at an out of focus tv set

Will there be any real difference for households when it comes to the €160 licensing fee we fork out each year?

In essence, the overhaul will involve further enforcement of the tv license and an increased effort to tackle evasion of it.

This week, Government decided they would be maintaining the current TV license but said that there would be an “overhaul” of the system to ensure it is more equitable, relevant and sustainable, according to RTÉ News.

In Ireland, a TV license is legally required for any address at which there is a television set. The fee, which has been set at €160 since 2016 is collected by An Post and used to fund RTÉ.

So what does an overhaul of the system mean?

A report relating to the Future of Media Commission has recommended that the licensing fee should be replaced with exchequer funding, however Government have said that it will keep the current system, “in order to maintain a direct link between media and the public they serve, and to minimise the risk of actual or perceived political interference in media independence”. According to the Independent, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it would be “dangerous for democracy” if funding for the national broadcaster relied upon decisions made by Government.

The media commissions report contained a total of 50 recommendations and Government has said it will adopt, in principle, 49 of them.

Also, ministers have asked officials to examine ways to develop a new and more comprehensive register to target license fee evaders, potentially by making use of  “existing national databases of households” such as those maintained by Revenue and Ordnance Survey Ireland.

As part of the report, the Cabinet was told that An Post’s licence fee database is “based on archaic technology and is significantly out of date”, according to The Independent.

They were also told that told Ireland is one of the few countries still operating a licence model limited to ownership of an actual TV, and that evasion rates are higher than in many other parts of Europe. The commission will examine whether the licensing fee should extend to those who use phones, tablets etc rather than traditional television sets.

Header image via Shutterstock 

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