Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), which represents 34 independent radio stations, is calling for urgent reform of the TV licence fee to help tackle evasion and improve collection rates through the introduction of a broadcast charge and commercial premises tariffs, a portion of which should go towards fund public service broadcasting on independent radio.
The report, commissioned by IBI and undertaken by lecturer and journalist Kevin Rafter, shows that 68 per cent of all radio listened to in July this year was independent radio, yet no licence fee funds were allocated specifically for public service content in this area. The report highlights there is no separate licence fee structure for commercial outlets like hotels.
The cost of An Post collecting the fee tow years ago was €13.4 million. Licence fee evasion in Ireland is said to to be over 15 per cent, with €30m being lost each year through evasion. In comparison, the UK evasion rate is 5.5 per cent. Rafter says a broadcast charge in place of the licence fee and a commercial licence fee would increase revenue and reduce evasion.
Speaking at an information day for members of the Oireachtas, IBI chairman John Purcell (above) said the report once again “rubbished the notion” that public service broadcasting was the sole preserve of RTÉ and highlighted the need to establish a dedicated fund for public service content on independent radio stations throughout the country.