Minister Denis Naughten unveils plans to clamp down on TV licence evasion

Plans to target iPad and laptop users have been scrapped

Minister Denis Naughten unveils plans to clamp down on TV licence evasion

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten. 28-Nov-2016. Image: Niall Carson PA Wire/PA Images

Minister Denis Naughten has announced Amendments to the Broadcasting Act 2009. 

The Amendments will help alleviate the levy burden on independent broadcasters; provide for a Bursary Scheme for journalists working in local or community radio and allow for the issue of a tender for TV licence fee collection.

“I am extremely pleased to have secured Cabinet approval so that the burden of the broadcasting levy imposed on all local and community radios stations can be reduced," said the Minister. "The sector needs to be nurtured and supported. I want to provide more flexibility for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in how it applies the levy to all broadcasters including community and hospital radio stations."

"The purpose of these proposed changes is to allow the BAI to ensure that each service it regulates can make a fair and proportionate contribution to the levy and to ensure the levy is not imposing an undue burden on the sector. In addition, I intend introducing a new funding scheme to offer bursaries to journalists working in local or community radio stations. This proposed scheme, which will be funded as part of the Broadcasting Fund, will recognise quality journalism produced at a local level. The scheme may be of particular interest to young journalists starting off in their careers in local radio – as many often do,” he continued.

TV Licence

Ireland has a high rate of TV licence evasion, which is estimated to be over 13.75%. This equates to a loss of approximately €40 million per annum to public service broadcasting, according to the Department of Communications. 

“The other significant amendment approved today at Cabinet aims to tackle the difficulties associated with the current TV Licence system,” added Minister Naughten. While the €6 million achieved for public service broadcasting in Budget 2017 reversed some of the cuts imposed during recent years, I am fully conscious that, if RTÉ’s societal and sectoral contribution is to be maintained, the level of licence fee evasion needs to be tackled,” concluded Minister Naughten.

The Minister has asked the Office of Government Procurement to issue a Request for Information to see what services in this area the market may be able to offer.  This process is a necessary preliminary step in advance of the issuing of a Request for Tender which can then be done once the legislation is amended.  Nine companies have responded to this public Request for Information to date.

A spokesperson for the minister confirmed that plans to link the TV licence to iPads and laptops have been scrapped.