It has been a tumultuous few months for the RTÉ, whose financial scandals have exposed a culture that has alienated many viewers and caused TV licence payments to plummet since June of last year. Among the many political parties that have weighed in on the situation, Sinn Féin have offered a proposal for a new approach for a sustainable public sector broadcasting.
Sinn Féin have proposed that the TV licence be scrapped entirely, and that the RTÉ and other media be funded by the Exchequer.
TV licence payments fell by 13% in 2023, which accounts for a fall of around 123,000 licences total.
Overall, there has been a €34 million fall in revenue from tv licences since 2018.
Deputy John Brady was speaking as Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould and party Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty published a policy document Delivering sustainable public sector broadcasting and an independent media sector and announced a Dáil motion on the issue, which will be debated this week.
Brady said: “Financial scandals at RTÉ have rocked people’s trust and confidence in the national broadcaster and the TV licence. The number of people refusing to pay has soared in the aftermath of these scandals.
“Sixty people per day face prosecution for non-payment. A staggering 13,000 people were summoned before the courts last year while no one has been held to account for the incredible waste of public money at RTÉ.
“Government parties are actively considering replacing the licence fee with a new household charge to be collected by Revenue. They are determined to continue seeing people prosecuted for non-payment.
“This needs to stop, and we need a funding model that delivers and sustains vibrant and diverse public sector broadcasting and an independent media sector.
“Sinn Féin TDs Thomas Gould and Pearse Doherty are today publishing our proposals, Delivering sustainable public sector broadcasting and an independent media sector, and announcing a Dáil motion on this issue, which will be debated this week.
“I am calling on Government TDs here in Wicklow to support our proposals to abolish the licence fee with immediate effect and instead directly invest Exchequer funding in a platform-neutral Media Fund, which would support RTÉ and TG4 as well as public service content production and activities of commercial, local and community providers, and introduce a legal amnesty from prosecution for those who have not paid their licence fee.
“It is now time to act. The Government must scrap the TV licence and fund RTÉ and other public service media through direct Exchequer funding.”