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RTÉ says state down €40m a year over unpaid TV licences

Figures were included in report sent to McCarthy’s review group on state assets and liabilities.

Image: Elsie esq. via Creative Commons

RTÉ HAS CLAIMED that over half of Irish businesses and some 232,000 households which have a television set are tuning in without a licence.

The claims were made in documents sent by RTÉ to economist Colm McCarthy’s review of state assets, the Sunday Times reports.

In the recent McCarthy report, the review group said that the licence fee effectively “amounts to a poll tax” and said the licence fee system’s reliance on the “increasingly archaic concept of wireless telegraphy and possession of sets and receivers could become problematic”.

It also suggested that the portion of the licence fee allocated to the Broadcasting Fund (currently about 7 per cent of the licence fee) should be “increased substantially” to better equalise competition conditions between RTÉ and private broadcasters. The fund provides financial support for film, television and radio projects based on Irish culture, heritage and experience.

The national broadcaster receives the remaining 93 per cent of every €160 licence fee – which works out at around €200m.

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, every home, business and institution that possesses a TV set must hold a current licence.

RTÉ estimates that 54.6 per cent of businesses are evading the licence fee required for their sets, meaning the state is losing out on €3.8m a year. An estimated €37m is lost annually through households which have televisions, but no licence.

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