Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Questions (19)

Seán Sherlock


19. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason there is a 15% evasion rate in relation to the television licence fee. [41227/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I am very much aware of the challenges that face the existing TV Licence system, including the current unacceptable levels of evasion.  While the rate has fallen from 15.3% at the end of 2013 to the current rate of 14.1%, it is still very high.  In light of changes in technology and viewing habits, I accept that the current system needs to be reformed.

Having said that, despite its limitations, it's important that I make sure that the current system works as an effective collection mechanism. In that context, my Department has been working with An Post and RTÉ on an ongoing basis so that all steps are being taken to ensure the system is working as effectively as possible. Measures such as marketing campaigns, more evening and weekend inspections and appointment of additional temporary inspectors are just some of the initiatives that have been utilised to enhance sales and improve compliance rates.

As the Deputy will be aware, I obtained Government approval last year to draft a number of legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Act 2009, including amendments for the tendering of TV Licence fee collection.

The proposed amendments were considered under Pre-Legislative Scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action & Environment and I received their report on March 8th. The Bill is currently being drafted by Parliamentary Counsel and is included as a priority on the Government's Legislative Programme.

As the Deputy is also aware, I requested the Committee to examine the longer term issue of the future funding of public service media and the Committee published their report at the end of November 2017.

Following consideration of the recommendations made in that report, Government approval was received in July 2018 to establish a Working Group on the Future Funding of Public Service Broadcasting.  The Working Group will examine a number of options to support future funding and the reform of television licence collection and it is intended that it will report to me in Quarter 1 2019.