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Revenue must collect the TV Licence to rescue indigenous Irish TV industry
27 Nov 2017 : Nathan Griffin
The Oireachtas committee will today recommend to Government that the TV Licence Fees should no longer be collected by An Post and instead be collected by the Revenue Commissioners which should see the income generated from the Licence fees increase substantially.

 It estimated that up to €50Million is lost in uncollected fees each year in Ireland.  The Committee is recommending that in the future an all-in Fee should be payable for people who view public service visual or radio content through other devices such as laptops, ipads/tablets, or smartphones.  They recommend that if people feel strongly that they do not access public content in any of these ways, they should specifically inform Revenue and sign an affidavit to avail of an exemption to paying the fee.  Old-age pensioners and social welfare recipients will continue to be exempted from paying the fee.

The Committee will also advise the Government to change legislation to force satellite television services such as Sky and Virgin to pay RTÉ and TV3 retransmission fees for broadcasting their programmes.  These proposals, if implemented by Government, will give a much-awaited boost to the long-term funding of public-service broadcasting and the independent sector, at a time when traditional advertising revenue streams are dwindling amid new viewing platforms and new-media such as Google and Facebook, which are eating into Irish advertising spend.

The additional fees income collected by the Revenue would be used to finance independent productions.  The Committee estimates that retransmission fees from satellite platforms, could generate an estimated €15 million to €20 million additionally for broadcasters.  There is no doubt that this proposal would be strongly resisted by Sky for example, which has threatened to stop transmitting RTÉ programmes if the fees are introduced.  See IFTN’s previous article here.

The independent TV production sector in Ireland are weighing in behind the proposals, with Larry Bass of Shinawil writing in the Irish Times that the Government needs to double the Licence fee and crack down on fee evaders or say goodbye to Irish made television content.

He said “Public-service television costs money, and if we do not pay for it it will not exist, pure and simple.  All costs have increased, yet the television licence fee has remained static. Various boards of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and various ministers for communications have failed to support any increases – including a basic increase to keep pace with inflation. Indeed, ministers have cut the television licence in real terms by taking funds for local radio news, commercial television broadcasters and other funding out of the original television licence fee.”

He went on to say “A significant number of homes in Ireland already pay a high premium for television services from suppliers such as Sky. If you are taking all packages you could be paying more than €1,200 a year. Networks such as Sky and Virgin take substantial revenue out of Ireland every year without any requirement to spend any money on Irish content. Yet they broadcast Irish content without having to pay a euro for the privilege of using this content to generate their subscriptions”

“Without an indigenous culture, what is the worth of a thriving economy?”

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