Irish innovation on TV Licensing

The end of the 'big box'. Pic from James Good on Flickr

It is possible that one of the more innovative early suggestions from the new Irish government, albeit one ‘borrowed’ from the Green Party will be in relation to the scrapping of theTV licensing regime.

Around two thirds of European countries, less elsewhere and hardly at all in the Americas, impose a form of media license to fully or part fund state broadcasting.  In Ireland the fee is €160, roughly equivalent to that in the UK, but which only funds 50 per cent of state broadcaster RTE.

In many countries there is a separate license for radio and in some, quaintly, there remains a monochrome or black and white option that is cheaper.

The Irish government is considering scrapping this charge in recognition of the fact that an increasing number of households are watching TV online or through their phones and other devices.  The role of the big box in the corner of the room is diminishing.

When nations have scrapped the license regime before, in Australia and the Netherlands for example, it was generally because of increased commercial activity and a payment for the state service through grants from general taxation.

Ireland though is considering the idea of introducing a new location charge to cover the reception of any media signals.  Naturally there is plenty of work to be done on defining this legislative idea.  How do you charge for a laptop? or an iPhone? If it is a desktop in a call centre will it require a license if it has a modem?

Lots of questions then, but in principle it is an idea that can be considered as the equivalent of moving to the stable door as the horse is getting restless, and for that it should at least be given some support.

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