The Republic of Ireland’s public broadcaster, RTÉ, has called for licence fee reform after a controversial alternative was scrapped amidst an ongoing decline in public funding.

RTÉ logoThe alternative, known as the ‘broadcast charge’, has been the topic of intense debate in Ireland’s Parliament for the past five years, before being scrapped in early June.

The charge would have been paid by all households to account for the high level of license fee evasion and reflect changing media consumption patterns, regardless of the device being used to access PSB content.

Yet despite welcoming the removal of the proposed charge, RTÉ now faces substantial financial challenges. License fee evasion currently stands at 15% – twice that of the UK – costing up to €40million per year. The broadcaster has also has endured €15million worth of funding cuts since 2010, even though it has reduced its operating costs by 30%.

As a result, RTÉ is now looking for complete reform to the licence fee to make it more efficient, cost effective and ensure its long term sustainability – although the alternatives are yet to be decided.

The Irish broadcaster’s funding woes come at a time of mounted pressure for public service broadcasters across Europe, often as the result of changing media consumption patterns, political pressure and claims of unfair competition by commercial media outlets.

Thumbnail Image: William Murphy/Creative Commons 

By Kristian Porter