Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was in favor of a universal levy to replace the television license.
Earlier this year, the government rejected the Future of Media Commission’s proposals to replace the license fee with funding “from general tax revenues” by 2024.
The British taxpayer-funded BBC has previously backed a new funding scheme under which all households would pay a universal levy replacing the current license fee regardless of whether they watch live TV.
The government set up a new intersectoral technical group after the commission made its recommendations.
The group is tasked with examining new enforcement actions as there is currently a evasion rate of over 15 per cent of the €160 fee.
Mr Martin said this group was “still meeting” and wasn’t sure when to get in touch.
However, he told journalists in Paris that ministers were “not able” to agree on the abolition of the television license and would instead favor a “universal levy”.
“It was not possible to reach an agreement on an alternative system. I think a universal levy would ultimately be the more sustainable approach to media sourcing to have independent media in the future,” Martin said.
“The idea then is for the group to come back to us to increase revenue in the current system,” added Mr. Martin.
RTÉ estimates that it loses 65 million euros every year because thousands of households do not pay the license fee.
The government gave up the can last summer, ignoring the Future of Media Commission’s recommendations to introduce a household fee, fixed state subsidies and reforms to the current license fee system.
The Technical Group is currently addressing issues related to more effective royalty collection.
They will also look at how the license fee can be “future-proofed so that revenue increases as the housing stock grows,” according to a briefing on the government’s plans.
The group examines whether the license fee should extend beyond those who own a non-portable television and the challenges of addressing those who use phones or tablets in the context of burden of proof, collection, enforcement and public perception.
Work was set to begin last summer on legislative and administrative changes needed to ensure the television licensing system is “fairer, more relevant and more sustainable”.
Mr Martin said replacing the television license with general taxpayers’ money was not feasible as it would cost €300m and was “not realistic” in the “current tax climate”.
The commission, chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, made 50 recommendations, 49 of which were accepted by the government, including a new regulator, Coimisiún na Meán, to set industry standards.
Other measures include a “National Strategy to Combat Disinformation” to boost trust in the media; a reduced or no VAT rate for newspapers and digital publications; and a media fund to support local democracy reporting, courtroom reporting, and community media.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/taoiseach-says-universal-levy-would-be-more-sustainable-than-tv-licence-42178156.html Taoiseach Micheál Martin says a universal levy is “more sustainable” than a television license