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Ireland drops licence fee plan, for now

Ireland charges €160 for an annual TV licence, but wants to revise both the charge and how it is collected. The new concept is to have a ‘Public Service Broadcasting Charge’ and discussions with stakeholders started in August 2013, but the scheme has been put on hold because of its complexity.

The rationale for a new system is – in part – to combat what is claimed to be a growing number of licence evaders (currently estimated at about 15 percent). One legitimate exemption at the moment, as in the UK, is that signals streamed onto computers, laptops and portable devices do not need a licence.

Ireland’s Communications Minister Alex White now says that the plans are on hold, at least during the lifetime of the current Irish parliament. Also on hold are plans to gather data from DTH operator Sky and cable supplier UPC in order to seek out licence evaders.

The problem for broadcaster RTE is that it is part-dependent on advertising income, and that revenue stream has fallen over the past few years.

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