The reasoning behind this change, insists Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, is that everyone in Ireland watches TV in some form or other, either on a traditional television set or online.
He arrogantly stated that anyone who doesn’t watch TV, in any format, is a “caveman”.
Rabbitte said yesterday: “I don’t believe that we have cavemen in the country. I don’t believe that there are people who don’t watch television.”
Well then, minister, I guess I must be a cavewoman because I haven’t watched TV in years.
It started when I moved to Glasgow. I wasn’t terribly well off financially and my flat didn’t have a TV so I had to do without. After a week or so, I hardly missed it. In fact, I found I had far more time for other activities such as reading and writing. I even managed to rediscover my love of painting for a while.
It was liberating. And when I moved back to Ireland, the first change to my new house was to get rid of the TV.
In the years that followed, there were countless letters demanding I pay my TV licence. To each, I responded that I did not own a TV and an inspector was welcome to verify this.
Sometimes, I received a response in the form of a very abruptly worded follow-up letter, but more often than not, I would get nothing at all, simply being sent the same generic ‘pay your bloody licence’ notice a few weeks later.
When this new charge is introduced, it won’t be possible for me to tell the inspectors I don’t use the service they want to charge me for. Why? Because apparently, I don’t exist: I’m a cavewoman, an anomaly.
As a 20-something-year-old, fresh out of college, I am very aware of the digital age. The majority of my peers prefer to watch their media online.
What they are not doing is watching RTÉ online — our public service broadcaster isn’t worth the licence fee in the first place.
With the exception of Love/Hate, RTÉ hasn’t produced a high-quality programme in years. People who watch TV online are watching shows like Dexter and Breaking Bad, or rewatching old favourites.
It is, therefore, grossly unfair to inflict this charge upon people who have no reason to pay it. I, for one, will be submitting there be a provision for citizens to tell the Government about their usage so they can be deemed exempt. Any fellow cavepeople out there should do the same.