Oireachtas report finds TV licence system "not fit for purpose"

It wants Revenue Commissioners to take responsibility for collection

Oireachtas report finds TV licence system "not fit for purpose"

Remote control for a television | Image: Daniel Law/PA Archive/PA Images

Updated: 18.30

A new report looking at the current TV licence fee says the system is not fit for purpose and should be replaced.

The Oireachtas Communications Committee says the funding model used now should be replaced by a household-based broadcasting charge, which would be collected by the Revenue Commissioners.

The report follows detailed and comprehensive examination of the public service broadcasting landscape in Ireland.

It had a particular focus on the level of public funding required for stations to fulfil their public service objectives, the future of the licence fee and access to advertising revenue.

Among the report's recommendations are a broadening of the existing charging regime to capture every household consuming media - regardless of the technology used.

It says such a new regime would incorporate all households, and not just those in possession of a traditional TV set.

It believes the introduction of a household-based broadcasting charge (i.e. not-device dependent) is "feasible, efficient and practical considering the increasing threats to sustainability of current licence fee revenues."

The committee says a funding cap should be restored on RTÉ  | File photo

It says the existing allocation of licence fee monies should be "be scrutinised and revised" to ensure that any monies taken in "are provided to a diversity of existing and new sources in a fair and equitable way."

This would see funding be made available from the TV licence fee for independent radio stations.

It also wants to restore a funding cap for RTÉ, implemented by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

While it says the licence fee itself should be reviewed in the light of Consumer Price Indexation (CPI).

And it says all references in legislation referring to 'public service broadcasting' or 'broadcasters' should be changed to 'public service media' (PSM), where appropriate.

Government response

In response, Communications Minister Denis Naughten said: "I will examine its contents and recommendations in detail which will help inform future policy options in this area.

"I fully recognize the important role that public service media plays in a democratic society and the need to ensure that it is adequately resourced if it is to continue to deliver upon its remit.

"I intend to bring proposals to Cabinet on funding options early in the new year."

'Constantly changing landscape'

Committee chair Hildegarde Naughton said: "Public service broadcasting faces a constantly changing broadcasting landscape.

"The advent and increasing permeation of digital technology and, more specifically, hardware into our daily lives has irrevocably changed traditional consumer viewing habits and typical linear broadcasting services.

"The current funding model is not fit for purpose in today's highly technological advanced society where TV sets are no longer the only source of media contact viewing.

"As emphasised by stakeholders, the committee believes that it is imperative that realistic timeframes are set down to implement these recommendations."

Read the full report here