Government reconsidering imposition of controversial Broadcasting Charge

The Government is set to make a second bid to replace the TV licence fee with a new charge to include Netflix and other online sites after admitting the existing system is “broken”.

Department of Communications secretary general Mark Griffin said the controversial broadcasting charge should be put back on the table two years after it was shelved following a public backlash.

Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Griffin said: “If I am being brutally honest, I’d say the TV licence system is broken and I’m not sure it can be fixed.”

Responding to Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells, he said the State is losing tens of millions of euro every year as people are no longer paying the licence because of changing viewing trends across many different platforms such as iPads, laptops, and phones.

Every household would have to pay the broadcasting charge even if they did not have a TV.

“If you look at the next generation, I’ve a 23-year-old and a 19-year-old, and I can’t remember the last time I saw them sit down and watch TV,” he said. “They watch online, websites, YouTube, Netflix.

“There is a huge change in trend, so is it credible to have a TV licence for a TV only? We’ve had this debate before, but it is a space we need to look at again.”

Any replacing of the TV licence fee with a broadcasting charge will not be made before an Oireachtas report on public sector broadcasting is published in the coming months.

Mr Cassells said reforms are needed because non-payment of the licence fee and online competitor growth has “banjaxed” RTÉ’s commercial strategy.

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