Question to ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr Pat Rabbitte, TD)
To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the requirements for hotels and other commercial premises to obtain television licences; the number of licences required; the penalties applied for breaches and the enforcement regime in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 13th June, 2013.
The current TV licensing system is underpinned by Part 9 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, which sets out inter alia the requirement to have a television licence and the penalties for not having a valid licence. Currently, only one class of licence and one level of licence fee exist and this covers any number of devices so long as they are all in the same property (residential or commercial). There is no separate, commercial television licence system in operation.
As the Deputy will be aware, An Post administers the collection of the TV licence fee on my behalf. In terms of compliance with the TV licensing requirements, An Post makes every effort to bring evaders into the licensed pool and a considerable amount of time and resources are spent in dealing specifically with this issue.
Section 144 of the 2009 Act provides for the introduction of regulations in relation to different classes of licences in respect of different classes of premises e.g. commercial premises. In 2011, my Department carried out an internal evaluation of the feasibility and cost benefits of introducing different categories of licence. On foot of this exercise, it was decided to deal with the issues arising in the context of a wider on-going review, in relation to the introduction of a household based Public Service Broadcasting Charge.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government commits to examining the role and collection of the TV licence fee in light of existing and projected convergence of technologies and to transforming the TV licence into a household based Public Broadcasting Charge to be applied to all eligible households and applicable businesses, regardless of the device used to access content or services.
My Department has been carrying out a Value for Money Policy Review on the proposed policy, the Report of which has recently been submitted to me. I am currently giving due consideration to the Report and its recommendations and, on this basis, expect to be in a position, subject to Government approval, to initiate work in the Autumn on the legislative and other work necessary to implement the household based Public Broadcasting Charge.
Such proposals will, of course, involve an element of consultation to ensure that the views of interested parties are taken into account and I look forward to the engagement of all stakeholders with any such consultation at the appropriate time.