Reforms to TV licence fee announced

THE Government has announced plans to reform the traditional TV licence, which will include devices like laptops and tablets by 2024.

On Friday, August 2, Minister for Communications Richard Bruton published the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2019.

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Minister for Communications Richard Bruton

Among a number of recommendations by the Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting, the Government will be putting the collection of the TV licence fee out to public tender later this year. 

The option to purchase a TV licence at a post office will remain regardless of who the successful awardee of the contract is.

According to Minister Bruton, this tendering process will allow a five year contract for the service to be put in place – at the end of which, the traditional licence fee ‘should be replaced by a device independent broadcasting charge’.

“Most people pay their TV licence fee”, Minister Bruton said.

“However, we still see approximately 12 per cent evasion, which we need to address.

“By tendering for a contract of five years, this will allow the awarded body the chance to invest in a robust collection service.”

According to a statement by the Department, around 10 per cent of homes access content on alternative devices, which do not require a television licence.

“It is also clear that due to the nature of technological change and the movement towards digital devices, the design of the TV licence fee will have to change", Minister Bruton said. 

“This is a fundamental reform that will take time to develop, but it will future proof the funding model, taking account of changes in technology and in how content is now consumed.”

A review of the Broadcasting Act, to evaluate the proportion of the TV licence revenue, is also being conducted.

Other aspects of the Bill includes, measures to support local community radio.

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