It’s a New Year but 20 days into January, householders are still wondering whether it will be a happy one or not.
Homeowners around the country were still debating whether or not they should pay the controversial new household charge when news broke this week of a possible new household broadcasting charge. According to the latest figures released by the Department of the Environment, 45,000 householders have paid the €100 household charge so far – taking in €4.5 million for the State’s coffers.
However, that is some way off the estimated 1.6 million homes that are liable for the charge, which will be replaced by a full blown property tax either next year or in 2013.
So with so many wondering whether or not they will pay that charge, the government dropped a real bombshell earlier this week when Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte announced that he was considering a household broadcasting charge to replace the current TV licence fee.
The reasons behind this are twofold. Firstly, the government wants to try and rake in some of the estimated €25 million being lost in TV licence revenue every year by those evading the charge and secondly, to target those watching TV, movies and sport on their laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Mr Rabbitte claims that the charge could be less than the €160 that over a million households are already paying for their TV licence but the more cynical in society have their doubts.
Today we ask you to have your say…
While no firm commitment has been made as to how the new household broadcasting charge will be collected, it is understood that it will be collected using the same system currently being used to collect the household charge.
The promise of a cheaper fee, spread more evenly amongst the country’s population, seems good in theory but there are those who have their fears about how much it will increase by.
There’s a similar fear at present surrounding the household charge. It might only be €100 now but many expect it to rise to as much as €1,000 when a full property tax is introduced and water charges are added to it.
Given those circumstances, it is somewhat understandable to see why people might have their reservations about a broadcasting fee.
There will be those who scream injustice, and the debate over the pay that some of RTE’s top earners receive is a constant sticking point for many, but we shouldn’t be surprised that this charge has come around.
It was a commitment in the programme for government and with funding for television in this country currently coming from around one million TV licence holders, news way to pay for it needed to be looked at.
With people now able to watch full programmes on tablets or phones, never mind PCs or laptops, it was only a matter of time before the number of those paying the TV licence fee dropped. An estimated 18% of people already don’t have a licence for their telly.
From a government point of view this will level the playing field. At present there is no way of targeting those avoiding the charge as TV licence inspectors do not know who resides in a house until they register for their licence for the first time.
The property database will solve that issue but still, many people remain unhappy. There are those who claim not to have a TV while others insist they do not watch RTÉ.
There are also additional charges for many on top of either the current TV licence fee or the proposed household broadcasting charge.
Anyone with a Sky or other digital subscription is already paying a monthly charge for their TV viewing, while even those who solely look at programmes on digital formats have to pay the likes of broadband fees.
Many more have opted to use the Freeview service, a one off subscription that gives you an abundance of TV stations but, crucially, not the Irish ones.
And with the current terrestrial signal being turned off later this year and being replaced by Saorview, many more will have to invest in new digital receivers or new TVs.
Of course, the household broadcasting charge is still just a proposal and even if it gets the go ahead Minister Rabbitte has admitted it won’t be ready next year so it could be 2014 at the earliest when it is introduced.
There’ll be lots of debate about it between now and then so why not have your say in our poll:[poll id=”17″] [poll id=”18″] [poll id=”19″] [poll id=”20″]