Calls for reform of TV licence after new broadcasting charge plans scrapped

The proposed charge would have had to be paid even if households did not own a television

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Denis Naughten. Image: RollingNews.ie

Independent broadcasters are calling on the Government to reform the TV licence.

The call is being made after the Department of Communications confirmed it is scrapping plans for a new broadcasting charge.

Quoted in the Irish Independent, Minister Denis Naughten said: "It is not going to be possible to bring legislation along those lines through in the current Dáil".

It had been planned that the fee would replace the €160 TV licence and would have had to be paid even if households did not own a television, and regardless of the device they use.

The previous Fine Gael / Labour Government had pledged to introduce the charge in their programme for government, but plans to introduce it were postponed during their term in office.

John Purcell, Chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, says even if the proposed new system is not going ahead, the Government still needs to rework the existing fee.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, he said: "It costs too much to collect - I think it costs around a million a month. It needn't be that expensive to collect. And I think the evasion rates are about 15%, which means €40 million.

"On the other side of things, RTÉ doesn't have a monopoly on public service broadcasting - so the money needs to go to support public service broadcasting of all hues," he added.

A report last year indicated that 87% of the money collected from the TV licence fee was being allocated to RTÉ and TG4.

Mr Purcell also said that he was glad the new minister has been decisive on the scrapped charge. He argued that the previous two ministers had "fudged the issue. It had dragged on for years".