28 Nov 2017, 13.07

The current TV licence funding model is not fit for purpose and should be replaced by a household-based broadcasting charge which would be collected by the Revenue Commissioners, a new report from the Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment has recommended.

The report follows detailed and comprehensive examination of the public service broadcasting landscape in Ireland, in particular the requisite level of public funding required for stations to fulfil their public service objectives, the future of the licence fee and access to advertising revenue in an ever-evolving digital era.

The report’s recommendations are:

•    The committee is conscious of promoting a sense of fairness and equity and highly recommends that the concessions which are presently available to social welfare recipients are retained with any funding model.

•    A broadening of the applicability of the existing charging regime be expanded to capture every household consuming media regardless of the technology used. Such a new regime would incorporate all households and not just those in possession of a traditional TV set.

•    That the introduction of a non-device dependent public service broadcasting charge (household-based) is feasible, efficient and practical considering the increasing threats to sustainability of current licence fee revenues.

•    The responsibility for the collection of the TV License Fee collection should be assigned to the Revenue Commissioners.

•    That the existing proportional allocation of licence fee monies be scrutinised and revised to ensure that any monies realised by the implementation of the anti-evasion strategy are provided to a diversity of existing and new sources in a fair and equitable way.

•    Restoring the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection funding cap for RTÉ.  

•    Licence fee to be reviewed in the light of Consumer Price Indexation (CPI).

•    The committee agree in principle to the introduction of retransmission fees and give RTÉ the capacity to negotiate with suitable platform providers (without prejudice to meeting their public service obligations).

•    The committee also consider that a provision be included to review the negotiation process in relation to retransmission fees.

•    All references in legislation should to ‘public service broadcasting’ and ‘public service broadcasters’ should be changed to ‘public service media’ (PSM), where appropriate.

Committee Chair Hildegarde Naughton said: “Public service broadcasting faces a constantly changing broadcasting landscape. The advent and increasing permeation of digital technology and, more specifically, hardware into our daily lives has irrevocably changed traditional consumer viewing habits and typical linear broadcasting services.

The current funding model is not fit for purpose in today’s highly technological advanced society where TV sets are no longer the only source of media contact viewing.

As part of its 2016 Work Programme, the Committee decided to conduct an elective consultative process to investigate possible viable funding models and based, on the evidence presented to it by individuals, officials and various stakeholders, and has made a number of important recommendations including the introduction of a household-based broadcasting charge which would be collected by the Revenue Commissioners

As emphasised by stakeholders, the Committee believes that it is imperative that realistic timeframes are set down to implement these recommendations.”

Read the report here: https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/joint_committee_on_communications_climate_action_and_environment/reports/2017/2017-11-28_report-on-the-future-funding-of-public-service-broadcasting_en.pdf

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