- Film And TV
- 19 Jul 23
Government is monitoring the situation amid speculation that RTÉ could require a State-funded bailout amid reforms.
New figures released by Minister Catherine Martin to Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin show a 27% drop in TV licence revenue compared to the previous year.
The figures show there were 5,837 fewer TV licences issued during June and the first week in July than there was in the same period last year, amounting to a difference of €933,920.
The TV licence system in Ireland has faced increased backlash in recent weeks following revelations of RTÉ spending on lavish events and trips in addition to undisclosed payments to Ryan Tubridy since 2018.
Testimony from RTÉ executives in multiple Oireachtas hearings in recent weeks have failed to inspire confidence in RTÉ's leadership and business operations.
@rte chief financial officer "doesn't know how much he's being paid" . Now am I missing something. Never thought I'd say this but , Think it's time to boycott the TV Licence
— Ray Byrne (@DJRayByrne) June 30, 2023
As calls to boycott the TV licence have grown, so too has the push to reform the way payment is collected and enforced. An Post is currently responsible for collecting fees, conducting inspections, and initiating court proceedings in the case of non-payment.
Last year, 9,610 cases were heard in court, with RTÉ's internal estimation of a 15% evasion rate. Most cases heard in court result in a fine, €1,000 for a first offence and €2,000 for a repeat violation.
The Irish Prison Service has confirmed as of July 7 there had been no jailing of citizens this year for failing to pay the licence fee, and only one person was jailed last year.
242 people were jailed for nonpayment in 2012, but the vast majority were not held overnight.
The number of arrests for failing to pay TV licence fees dropped dramatically after the Fines (Payment and Recovery Act) was reformed in 2014.
Significant drops in TV Licence renewals in the wake of the RTÉ controversy.
🔻 5,837 fewer renewals than last year.
🔻 €933,920 in revenue.
(Across June and the first week of July)
— Richard Chambers (@newschambers) July 18, 2023
Proposals for Reform
The government has been in the process of reforming the TV licence system for a number of years, with various proposals presented and rejected, including a direct exchequer fee and funding from general revenue.
The 2011 government began the process of overhauling the TV licence system, but so far all attempts at reform have met with resistance from politicians or citizens.
The current proposal being considered is a switch from an individual licence fee, which sees any household or business with at TV pay a flat rate of €160 per year, with a universal levy.
The universal levy system would see the majority of households pay a fee, regardless of whether or not they own a TV set.
Under the current system, any household or business with a TV or device capable of receiving live TV signals (with the exception of mobile phones, small screen devices, and most laptops), pays the same fee regardless of how many people occupy the location or how many devices they own.
As such, a single person with a TV living alone pays the same fee as a pub or hotel which might have five or ten TVs capable of receiving RTÉ.
There have also been proposals to change the way the funding collected is allocated.
Currently, An Post handles the collection and inspection, and receives compensation to offset the costs of the operation. The majority of the funding goes to RTÉ, with some paid by RTÉ to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and TG4 which is allotted an hour of programming on RTÉ per day.
Last year, ministers rejected a proposal to replace the licence fee with a funding derived from general revenue, a recommendation which came from the Future of Media Commission.
The new Director General of RTÉ, Kevin Backhurst has officially requested government officials consider changing the system so that the government's revenue department collects the fees instead of An Post.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told reporters on Sunday, “Reform was put off in the past for lots of different reasons, but it is now long overdue and I’m determined to see that through during this government’s time in office."
- Film And TV
- 30 Nov 23