Comic did not pay TV licence over RTÉ’s use of taxpayer money

Comedian David McSavage told a judge yesterday that he did not pay his TV licence because he had a grievance with the way RTÉ spent taxpayers’ money.

The Savage Eye star was summonsed by An Post to court for not having a TV licence at his address at Kingsland Parade, Dublin 8, on May 7, 2015.

In recent media interviews, the writer and performer claimed he would not pay the €160 TV licence and was prepared to take a stance and go to jail in protest at the quality of programmes on the national broadcaster.

However, after the hearing at Dublin District Court, he told reporters: “It is one thing saying it, another thing doing it.”

He also said he did not understand what happened during the proceedings in which Judge John O’Neill gave Mr McSavage a chance to pay €115 arrears and avoid a hefty fine along with a court conviction.

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, it is a prosecutable offence to be found in possession of an unlicensed television set. Finescan be up to €1,000 for a first offence and €2,000 for subsequent offences.

A TV licence inspector told Judge O’Neill he called to the entertainer’s home on May 7, 2015, and Mr McSavage confirmed he lived there and was in possession of a TV set but had no licence.

However, a licence was taken out on March 31 this year leaving arrears of €115, the inspector told the court.

Mr McSavage told the court: “The reason I didn’t pay it is I have genuine concerns as to the use RTÉ makes of taxpayers’ money. I have expressed these concerns in other forums and I’ve been advised to pay the fine.”

Judge O’Neill told him his reason was not a justification, to which Mr McSavage replied: “Yes.”

Judge O’Neill adjourned the case until June 16 and told him if the arrears were paid by then, he will not have to attend the hearing and the case will be struck out.

However, he also warned him that if they were not paid and he did not attend court to look for more time, “you run the risk of having a conviction recorded and a fine”.

After court Mr McSavage told reporters he has not bought a licence and he did not know who had got it for him. “Unless,” he added, “Ray D’Arcy bought one for me, he said he would.”

When asked if he will pay the arrears he replied: “Dunno”.

In 2009, he wrote and starred in the TV series The Savage Eye for RTÉ, which was nominated for IFTA awards for best entertainment series and best director. Four series were filmed by RTÉ 2 until 2014.


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