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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 November, 2019
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Private firm to be hired to chase TV licence evaders

Ireland’s evasion rate stands at 13.75% – much higher than the EU average.

Still from popular US series 'Dog The Bounty Hunter'
Still from popular US series 'Dog The Bounty Hunter'
Image: YouTube

THOSE WHO DON’T pay their TV licence could soon face being chased for the cash by a private firm under new plans to tackle evaders unveiled by Minister for Communications Denis Naughten today.

The Government today approved a raft of new measures designed to bring in more revenue to finance national and local media organisations.

According to Naughten, the proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act 2009 will “alleviate the levy burden on independent broadcasters and provide for a bursary scheme for journalists working in local or community radio”.

It will also allow for the issue of a tender for TV licence fee collection. So far, nine companies have contacted the department and registered their interest in the scheme.

Currently, Ireland has one of the higher rates of TV licence evasion in the EU, with 13.7% of those with television sets not paying up. The UK’s evasion rate is estimated to be approximately 7%.

Evasion

The figure in Ireland equates to a loss of approximately €40 million every year to public service broadcasting.

According to the Department of Communications: “The evasion rate in the UK fell from 13% in 1991 to the current 7% after the BBC engaged commercial companies through public procurement competitions.  On the basis of legal advice received from the Office of the Attorney General, the current legislation does not allow for the Minister to appoint a TV licence agent by way of public tender.  The proposed amendments to section 145 would rectify this situation.”

Speaking of the proposed amendments, Minister Naughten said that while the €6 million achieved for public service broadcasting in Budget 2017 reversed some of the cuts imposed during recent years, he is “fully conscious that, if RTÉ’s societal and sectoral contribution is to be maintained, the level of licence fee evasion needs to be tackled”.

Read: Man in his 70s treated in hospital after he was carjacked in Sligo last night >

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