An Post takes 11,693 to court over nonpayment of TV licence in 2017

RTÉ says €40m could be freed up through reform of ‘inefficient’ system

TV licence: 64,272 people have been taken to court for nonpayment over the past five years. Photograph: E+/Getty

TV licence: 64,272 people have been taken to court for nonpayment over the past five years. Photograph: E+/Getty

 

An Post took proceedings against 11,693 people in 2017 for not having a television licence – a slight drop on the 11,994 in 2016 – and over the past five years has taken 64,272 people to court for nonpayment of the €160 fee, according to new figures provided by Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.

“Bringing people to court is a last resort and only carried out where all other means have failed,” he told the Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan in a written Dáil reply. An Post, which operates the TV licence system, “concentrates its initial efforts on getting people to buy the licence when due and by following up with a series of reminder notices and inspector visits”.

Only a tiny fraction of cases end in imprisonment; the Irish Prison Service says it does not yet have figures for the number of people jailed in 2017 for nonpayment of fines related to TV licences.

RTÉ said last week, in its 2018-22 strategy document, that “the inefficient licence fee system should be reformed” to boost public funding for all Irish media and that the current level of TV-licence evasion, at 15 per cent, and the high cost of collection, at 5.5 per cent, “provide significant scope for reform without any increase in the licence fee. More than €40 million in additional public funding would become available if the system was modernised.”