Broadcast charge not an extra tax - Rabbitte

Thursday 19 January 2012 23.48
Pat Rabbitte says almost all households will be liable for charge
Pat Rabbitte says almost all households will be liable for charge

Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has said a new broadcasting charge, if introduced, would not be an additional tax.

A broadcasting charge is being considered by Government as a replacement for the current television licence, which requires any household in possession of a TV to pay an annual fee of €160.

The minister said a new system is being considered due to technological changes, which has seen an increasing number of people using "non-traditional" means to access RTÉ's content.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Rabbitte said almost every household, with few exemptions, would be liable for the new charge if it was implemented.

According to the Minister this would also eliminate losses incurred from households that fail to pay the annual fee despite having a television, which he said is costing €25m per year.

He said a broadcasting charge would not be higher than the current licence fee and could end up being lower.

Mr Rabbitte said public service broadcasting had to be paid for and a household-based system would ensure there was a reliable source of revenue to do that.

He said he received many emails yesterday from people who thought such a charge would be a bad idea as it would mean them paying despite not having a television set.

However he expressed scepticism that these people had not found out about the plans through some form of public service platform, even if it was not the television.

The minister said the method of collection for a broadcasting charge has not been decided on and he conceded that it would face similar difficulties to the household charge.

He said discussions had taken place with the Department of the Environment about accessing a database of households.