You'll soon need a "TV" licence for a range of devices

Got a screen that's bigger than 11 inches?

You'll soon need a "TV" licence for a range of devices

Picture by: Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images

Size will soon matter when it comes to the screens on your electronic devices, as Communications Minister Denis Naughten plans to expand the definition of "television set" to bolster the state broadcaster's coffers.

According to Irish Independent sources, the TV licence fee will soon apply to PCs, laptops and larger tablets.
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.

The minister's move could generate as much as €5 million annually for RTÉ.

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 on RTÉ Radio last week. She has since distanced herself from those comments, stating that doubling the fee was "not practical".

She told Independent.ie:

“What I was saying was that the licence fee here in Ireland is incredible value at 40 cent a day. "The breadth of value and programming of everything that goes out from RTÉ every day for 40 cent a day is incredible. A cup of coffee here in the canteen is €1.60...

“What I was saying was that it’s good value – it is more in other markets – it was really around value…

“If it was doubled, would it be good value? Of course it would! But I’m not for one minute calling for a doubling of a licence fee because it’s not practical.”

The comments come as RTÉ prepares to cut at least 200 jobs as part of a restructuring.

Forbes told staff last week that jobs will be lost through voluntary retirement and redundancy. The cuts represent around 10% of its current staff levels.

Forbes said the organisation needs to reduce costs, adding that RTÉ has lost €100m in revenue since 2008. She stated that RTÉ had asked for an increase in the licence fee and that this process is "ongoing".

She added:

""RTÉ has been operating with vastly reduced commercial and licence fee income, now in the region of €330m, compared to €440m in 2008, and has been under-investing in the organisation for nearly a decade now.

"That is unsustainable. The current licence fee, at just over 40c a day, is I believe great value.

"Any notion that it be doubled is nonsense.

"What I am focused on is reform of the fee collection system to recover some €40m per annum that is lost to the entire Irish sector every year through evasion."