Rabbitte dismisses plan to transfer licence fee collection to Revenue

The plan aims to raise an additional €30 every year by eliminating evasion

Rabbitte dismisses plan to transfer licence fee collection to Revenue

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte

A former communications minister has rejected calls for the Revenue to take control of collecting the TV Licence in place of An Post.

It is reported this morning that an Oireachtas report is due to recommend that collection of the fee be transferred to the Revenue Commissioners in an effort to eliminate evasion.

The Oireachtas Communications Committee is due to make the recommendation later this week according to The Sunday Times.

The plan aims to raise an additional €30 every year.

The report will also recommend a change in the law that would require satellite platforms to pay millions in retransmission fees to RTÉ and TV3.

Sky has threatened to stop carrying the channels if forced to pay.

TD’s and senators are due to meet on Tuesday to finalise their recommendations on reforming the funding of broadcasting.

It is believed the report will also include a proposal that would ultimately see the licence fee replaced with a broadcasting charge levied on every home in the State – regardless of whether they own television.

On Newstalk’s On the Record this morning, former Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said Revenue’s remit does not include the collection if utility bills.

“The Revenue’s job is to collect taxes,” he said. “And it is a Government department that does a particularly good job.”

“It is not to collect utility fees for State companies or any company.

“You might as well say well why don’t they collect the ESB charge?

“So, I think the Revenue Commissioners will draw a line between; the Property tax at the end of the day is a tax; this is a utility bill.”

Earlier this week the incumbent Communications Minister Denis Naughten denied that the Government was considering introducing a ‘laptop levy’ that would see anyone watching content on any device charged a fee:

"No, I don't think we are exploring the idea of a laptop levy,” he said. “I think there are a number of opportunities we can look at - but I am waiting to see the detail of what the committee come back with and we will make our assessment based on that."

The Communications Committee has calculated that the introduction of a broadcasting charge in place of the licence fee could raise an extra €35m – while the introduction of retransmission fees could provide a €15m boost to Irish broadcasters.