Media reports over the weekend suggested that the Department of Communications will bring forward a suggestion to Government later this year which would raise the prospect of TV License Fees being collected by either the Revenue Commissioners or third party private agencies.
The system is currently run by An Post but RTÉ claims that as many as 400,000 households are evading payment.
At the current annual rate of €160 that would mean a shortfall on the money which should be coming in of as much as €64 Million every year.
It is a staggering amount, equal to more than ten times the deficit which RTÉ recently reported for the 2017 financial year.
The Revenue Commissioners are considered to be the most effective, and now also one of the most consumer-friendly means of collection and it would make sense.
The problem could then though switch to a definition of a television. Numbers, especially among younger groups watching programming through tablets, phones or PC’s is rising globally as well as in Ireland and many devices would now offer as good a viewing experience as the traditional TV.
When it comes to radio, also funded through the licence, the line between what is a phone and what is a radio is so blurred as to provide hardly any definition at all.
A report by the Oireachtas Committee last year suggested the replacement of a TV licence with a media licence which would cover consumption regardless of what technology was used.
This is already the kind of terminology and collection system used to support public service media in a number of countries across Europe.