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Public Service Broadcasting Charge to be introduced in January 2015

The new charge will replace the television licence fee.

Image: Carlos E Santa Maria via Shutterstock

A BROADCASTING CHARGE will replace the television licence fee from 1 January 2015, the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has confirmed.

The new Public Service Broadcasting Charge will apply to every household in the country and will not exceed the current €160 that is currently charged for the TV licence.

Rabbitte is to begin a consultation on the proposed charge in the coming weeks to determine how it will be applied and collected. The charge will aim to address what the Minister said is the “scale of evasion”.

It will also deal with the increasing numbers of people who do not watch television but access TV content on devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Rabbitte is also intending to bring forward legislation that will revise the governance arrangements for the amount of advertising public and commercial broadcasters are allowed to broadcast.

This could potentially involve an hourly cap on the number of minutes of advertising that public-service broadcasters such as RTÉ  are allowed to broadcast.

‘Give RTÉ more money’

Rabbitte has published the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s review of funding for public service broadcasters, as well as a report by consultants Crowe Horwath.

These reports have evaluated RTÉ’s and TG4′s level of public funding and whether the money they receive is used efficiently.

The BAI has said that while current levels of funding are sufficient, RTÉ is likely to require additional funding in order to “remain relevant in this changing media landscape”.

Consultants Crowe Horwath recommended that there should be no increase in the level of public funding, either from an increase in the licence fee or from the universal broadcast charge.

However, the BAI believes that more public money should be given to RTÉ subject to further efficiencies, a cap on commercial revenues, and a focus on the use of independent producers.

Rabbitte has asked NewERA, the body charged with the oversight of the commercial State sector, to examine the scope for further savings in RTÉ. TG4 is also being asked to submit a revised medium term strategy based on present levels of funding.

Read: New broadcasting charge won’t be used to save ailing newspapers

Column: I love RTÉ, but I don’t want an internet tax to pay for it

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Hugh O'Connell

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