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'We don't have cavemen here': Property tax register may be used for broadcast charge

Pat Rabbitte has expressed some scepticism that there are people in Ireland who don’t access public service content at all.

Pat Rabbitte doesn't think cavemen exist in Ireland.
Pat Rabbitte doesn't think cavemen exist in Ireland.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER PAT Rabbitte has said that the property tax register could be used for the collection of a new broadcasting charge as a public consultation on replacement for the TV licence begins.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Rabbitte said that the new charge would aim to address the evasion of the TV licence which he said is “in the order of €30 million”.

He said it would also account for the increasing number of people accessing public service content on tablets and smartphones.

“This is not a new tax, or a new charge,” he said adding that there “are very many people evading the licence”.

Asked if the property tax register may be used to determine which households are liable for the new charge – which will be roughly the same as the current TV licence – Rabbitte indicated he is considering this.

“You might do that, it’s one of the issues… I am certainly considering it,” he said pointing out that the “efficacy” of the collection system is essential: “We simply have to ensure that the collection system is effective.”

Cavemen

Rabbitte said that the new charge would be applicable to people in residential dwellings – meaning occupiers and not owners – as well as applicable businesses.

He said he intended to tackle the current “very serious anomaly” whereby hotels with hundreds of rooms only pay one TV licence and six holidays homes may have to pay for six licences.

Asked if people who don’t have a TV and don’t access public service content on other devices would be exempt, Rabbitte appeared to rule this out completely.

“I don’t believe that we have cave men in the country… I don’t believe that there are people who don’t watch television and don’t access content on their iPhone or iPad or whatever,” he said.

“People claiming that they neither have a TV nor do they ever access any public service content, I think one has to look at that somewhat sceptically.”

Read: Want your say on the new Broadcast Charge? The consultation period is now open

More: Public Service Broadcasting Charge to be introduced in January 2015

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Hugh O'Connell

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