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RTÉ has spent the equivalent of 7,425 TV licence fees on ads for the TV licence since 2018

Ads remind television owners that they must pay a €160 fee every year.

Image: Shutterstock/Gaurav Paswan

RTÉ HAS SPENT more than €1 million advertising the TV licence fee on its own television, radio and online channels in the past three years, new figures show.

Figures released to The Journal under the Freedom of Information Act show that the national broadcaster spent €396,000 in each year from 2018 to 2020 on advertising the fee.

Television owners in Ireland must pay a €160 fee every year, which goes towards funding RTÉ’s programming on television and radio, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound and Vision scheme, TG4, and An Post (which gets a commission for collecting the fee).

The fee is paid to An Post, and TV licence inspectors go around checking to ensure people have paid. If they haven’t, they’re issued a fine, which can lead to a court appearance.

The broadcaster continually advertises the fee on its platforms and in public locations, warning people of the consequences to members of the public who do not pay.

The total cost to RTÉ of advertising the fee from 2018 to 2020 amounted to €1,188,000, or the equivalent of 7,425 TV licences.

In comparison, the national broadcaster spent over €2.1m on TV licence ads on television, the radio, in cinemas, and online between 2011 and 2016

This rose from €273,000 in 2011 to €451,800 by 2016.

According to a Parliamentary Question response given by Minister Catherine Martin earlier this year, total licence fee revenues collected in 2020 amounted to €222.5 million.

The licence evasion rate was also revealed to be around 15%, while 9,555 summons for evasion were issued in 2020. A further 4,581 cases went to court.

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In December last year, RTÉ described the licence system as “broken” at an Oireachtas committee.

RTÉ’s television controller Adrian Lynch told politicians that the system costs about €50 million in lost revenue each year, with a quarter of a million people evading the licence fee and a further 140,000 households without a television.

“The combination of a broken TV licence system and a precarious commercial environment exposes undeniable vulnerabilities for the national public service media,” he said.

The Future of Media Commission, established under the Programme for Government, is considering the current licence fee model.

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