Department seeks consultants for review of television licence fee database

Hired firm will prepare report for Minister for Communications Alex White

The Department of Communications is seeking consultants to review the television licence database and system currently operated on its behalf by An Post.

The public tender says the consultants will prepare a report for Minister for Communications Alex White on An Post's database.

The hiring of consultants follows Mr White's signal in April that he intends to bring forward legislation that will allow An Post to access customer data held by commercial television platform operators Sky, UPC, Eircom and others – in a move designed to tackle licence fee evasion.

The current rate of evasion is estimated to be above 15 per cent, with the loss of more than €25 million to broadcasters – mainly RTÉ – each year.

Some 79 per cent of licence fee revenues – or almost €127 from each €160 licence fee – is used by RTÉ for its activities.

Improving the efficiency of television licence fee collection has been an ambition of the Department in recent years. However, it has stopped short of formally considering collection agents other than An Post.

In the United Kingdom, television licence fee collection is outsourced to Capita, the company that developed the Eircode postcodes system here.