Opening Bell: LinkedIn's Irish plans, expanding TV licence fee, public sector pay

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The TV licence fee will soon apply to computers, laptops and larger tablets, the Irish Independent has revealed.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten plans to broaden the definition of "television set" to generate as much as an extra €5 million annually for RTÉ.

Sources have told the newspaper that the €160 annual charge will be applied to electronic devices with screens that are bigger than 11 inches, meaning mobile phones and standard tablets would be exempt.

Naughten has already ruled out the introduction of the Fianna Fáil-backed 'Broadcasting Charge', which would impose a fee on every household in Ireland regardless of whether they they had access to public service broadcasting.

He also dismissed talk of doubling the licence fee, following RTÉ director general Dee Forbes' suggestion to do so last week. She has since distanced herself from those comments, stating that doubling the fee was "not practical".

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LinkedIn is considering moving some or all of its intellectual property (IP) to Ireland, according to the Irish Independent.

The IP relocation would present tax advantages for the professional social media platform, which has just been acquired by Microsoft for $24 billion (€24bn).

It declined to comment on its IP plans, stating that the newly-established Irish company LinkedIn IP Holdings 1 is part of "normal business procedures".

LinkedIn already has its EMEA headquarters in Dublin, employing 1,000 and planning to add 200 more in the near future.

Other tech and pharma firms have made similar moves recently in the wake of changes to international policies designed to clamp down on tax avoidance.

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Public sector workers in Ireland are earning 40% more on average than their private sector counterparts, new research from stockbroker Davy has found.

That is before allowances for pensions and job security are made.

The Davy report found that the average public sector wage is €47,400, compared to €33,900 in the private sector.

Davy said that as much as half of this pay gap can be attributed to differences in education, experience, qualifications and other factors.

Its 'Public Sector Pay – Avoiding the Mistakes of the Past' report also calculated that private sector employees would have to save €590,000 to buy annuity on retirement that would match the career-average public sector pension of €23,000 a year.
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A new joint venture between Vodafone and the ESB is giving away fibre broadband to businesses in 15 towns across Ireland.

Regional businesses have until April 21st to apply for the free one gigabit broadband, which will give them downloads speeds of up to 1,000Mbs for two years.

The gigabit broadband is roughly 10 times faster than the upper speeds on Eir's efibre broadband.
The towns involved are those where Siro now has fibre connectivity:

Carlow, Carrigaline, Castlebar, Cavan, Drogheda, Dundalk, Ennis, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Newbridge, Portlaoise, Ratheniska, Sligo, Tralee and Wexford.

The offer is limited to businesses which have leased premises of over 6,000 square feet.