Latest: TV licence fee could be lowered if everyone paid it, says former Communications Minister

Update 3.44pm: A former Communications Minister says the TV licence fee could actually be lowered if everyone paid it.

Former Minister Eamon Ryan says if a new method of collection could make everyone pay, there would be better content.

“I think the reality is, like so many things in this country back to the water charges dispute, where effectively any decision about any sort of charge became so politically sensitive that politicians, Governments, decided ‘No, don’t go near it’,” he said.

“I think in this case though, we’re not introducing a new charge, we have an existing charge, it’s just trying to make it fairer so everyone does pay, and maybe in that way, actually lower it.”

Earlier:

A new model could see people paying the licence fee even if they do not own a television.

The laptop levy is outlined in a new Dáil report, and could see the licence fee cost rise to €175 (from the current €160), and be linked to inflation.

The fee is designed to fund Irish broadcasters, in the context of the new reality where fewer people own traditional TV sets.

The report says urgent action is needed to fund impartial and authoritative journalism.

Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells told an Oireachtas Committee that without a proper fee we could see a further rise of fake news, saying: "We're going to have dead product...We're going to enter the space of American TV, where you have commercially-owned channels who can dictate editorial policy.

"I don’t want to live in a world where I'm looking at the Irish version of Fox News to get my information.

"We either value journalists or we don't, and we'd better wake up to that reality."

Ireland currently has the highest licence fee evasion rate in Europe, costing around €40m a year.

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