Responding to the intention of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte TD to replace the TV licence with a household broadcasting charge, the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland has said:
“We welcome the introduction of a new broadcasting charge to replace the current TV licence and we urge the Minister to take advantage of the opportunity this change presents to review how the revenue collected is used.
The new Household Broadcasting Charge was committed to in the Programme for Government. The Programme for Government also contains a commitment to “review the funding of public and independent broadcasters to ensure a healthy broadcasting environment”. If the Minister is bound to examine the television licence fee then he should also be bound to the Programme’s commitment to undertake a full review of the funding of broadcasting in Ireland. Indeed the two are inextricably linked and it is it is inconceivable that any change to the current TV licence system would not involve a review of how the funding is used.
In various media interviews Minister Rabbitte has referred to RTE as the state’s “public service” broadcaster. We would like to remind Minister Rabbitte that with over 2.4 million listeners each week day, all independent radio stations provide a high level of public service and that this is a condition of their licence.
We also note with great interest that €25 million of the television licence fee is lost each year through evasion and the Minister’s contention that the new licence fee arrangement would greatly reduce this amount. It is conceivable that the revenue to be collected from the new broadcasting charge be apportioned to fund the operations of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, a move that would benefit every broadcaster in the country regardless of whether they are community, commercial or state-funded. It is vital that the Minister reflects on how the changes he makes now will impact on the Irish broadcasting landscape over the coming years”.