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Government considers household charge to replace TV licence fee

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte wants to target some 15 per cent of people who evade the TV licence or may watch television online instead.

Pat Rabbitte
Pat Rabbitte
Image: Photocall Ireland

THE COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER Pat Rabbitte is actively considering replacing the television licence with a household broadcasting charge which will target those evading the annual fee.

Rabbitte estimates that some €25 million is lost through people having a television but not paying the licence fee and told the Dáil yesterday that a replacement is being considered to address evasion and “the reality of new mechanisms to access television content,” referring to those who watch TV online.

He said that a new charge would be placed on “all households and applicable businesses, regardless of the device used to access content.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Rabbitte stressed that the proposal for a new charge was not an additional tax on households already faced with the interim household charge ahead of eventual property and water taxes.

“This is not a new levy. This is a replacement for the existing TV licence,” he said.

“A huge number of the population now get their news maybe not from sitting down in front of the 9 o’clock news but accessing arrangements that the public service broadcaster has put in place,” Rabbitte said, referring to watching TV online.

He said that four countries were currently implementing similar changes to their television licence fee arrangements to account for those who do not use their TV to watch broadcasts and noted: “We won’t have to reinvent the wheel, I hope.”

Rabbitte suggested the new charge would not be more than the existing TV licence fee of €160 and even suggested “it might be less” but indicated that it was unlikely it would be implemented before next year.

The Minister told the Dáil yesterday that he would have a “sense of the timeframe and scale of implementation involved” in taking the proposal further in the coming weeks.

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Hugh O'Connell

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