TV licence fee evasion level 16%, says Rabbitte

Minister for Communications says 42,000 people have declared they have no television

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said 1,719,000 people were liable to have a television licence and the evasion rate based on departmental figures was about 16 per cent, or 275,040. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said 1,719,000 people were liable to have a television licence and the evasion rate based on departmental figures was about 16 per cent, or 275,040. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mon, May 27, 2013, 01:00



Almost 300,000 people are television licence fee evaders, and a further 42,000 have declared they do not own a television, according to Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte.

He said 1,719,000 people were liable to have a television licence and the evasion rate based on departmental figures was about 16 per cent, or 275,040. This is separate from the number in receipt of a free licence, those on a household benefits package from the Department of Social Protection, which was almost 410,000 at the end of last year.

The State, through An Post, which has responsibility for licence fee collection, should collect more than €275 million but loses just over €44 million through evasion.

The Minister has received Cabinet approval for the introduction of a broadcast charge to replace the licence and be “device independent” but was unable to say what income he expected the charge to generate.

Some 42,000 people have made statutory declarations that they do not own televisions under section 147 of the Broadcasting Act, 2009. Increasing numbers of people watch television on computers, mobile phones and other devices.

Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy had asked the Minister in a written parliamentary question the number of homes that did not pay a licence fee and those receiving a waiver.

The Sligo-North Leitrim TD also asked what income the broadcast charge was likely to generate. Mr Rabbitte told him “decisions in respect of the level of the charge have not yet been made” but “proposed new arrangements must, at a minimum, be capable of sustaining existing funding levels”.

He said the department was considering identification of those liable, the collection method, exemptions and enforcement and these would have a bearing on revenue.