An Oireachtas committee has heard that Ireland should follow other European countries in moving away from the problematic and "outdated" licence fee, which "doesn't make sense any more".

Professor Gillian Doyle is a member of the Future of Media Commission, Professor of Media Economics at the University of Glasgow and Director of its Centre for Cultural Policy Research.

She told the Oireachtas Media Committee today that "the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, and so on" have moved away from a compulsory licence fee, but acknowledged that it "still prevails in the UK and in some other countries".

"I think we all recognise that - in this era where people are consuming content from devices other than the television set - that a device-specific charge is looking very outdated," Prof Doyle said.

"Another problem with the licence fee is that it's regressive," she said.

"It charges the same amount whether you're rich or you're poor," and "there are very high collection costs and... evasion rates".

Prof Doyle said that one alternative which would "make sense" would be to "shift the basis of liability to household levy".

A universal charge could include businesses and generate more revenue, she said. Prof Doyle told the committee that this would be future-proofed, and was introduced in Germany in 2013.

The Commission has examined "more reliance on commercial revenues", or "voluntary subscriptions from citizens", but neither was likely to provide the necessary funds.

The redistribution of revenues from big tech, either through "collaboration" or "the imposition of requirement for payments under copyright law", is also being looked at.

Prof Doyle acknowledged that the licence fee "has merits, because it safeguards autonomy and editorial independence of public service media".

This would not be guaranteed if it was replaced by direct government funding, she said, while noting that such funding is being considered.

Mark Little, co-founder of Kinzen, told the committee that an "infodemic" of disinformation has accompanied the Covid pandemic.

"Having a strong public service media... is absolutely the first step in fighting back", he said.

The Committee is engaged in pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill and its integration with the Broadcast (Amendment Bill) 2019.