Ireland

Sinn Féin to table Bill which would see TV licence abolished in the Republic

The party also said it wants to see an amnesty for those who are being prosecuted for failing to pay the TV licence fee.

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty
Explosion at Donegal service station anniversary Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn FFéin is to introduce a bill on Tuesday which would abolish the TV licence with immediate effect, and replace it with direct exchequer funding.

The party said the current model is “not sustainable”.

The party also said it wants to see an amnesty for those who are being prosecuted for failing to pay the TV licence fee.

Some 13,000 people were brought before the courts last year for not paying their TV licence, which can lead to a 1,000 euro fine or a prison sentence.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said it wants to invest exchequer funding into a platform which would support RTE, TG4 and other media productions.



He said this would cost 140 million euro a year with additional investment of 12.5 million euro to An Post, as it will lose 7% of its revenue for administering the licence fee.

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said the party will table its Private Members Bill on Tuesday.

He added: “We believe the model is not sustainable going forward and following from the report from the Future of Media Commission that came out in July 2022, this government has sat for 19 months on this report and hasn’t acted.

“We are stepping in and bringing forward our solution for a properly funded and sustainable funding model for RTE and TG4 and for the broader media.

“Around 13,000 people were brought in front of the courts last year for not paying their TV licence.

“People who are struggling to pay their bills and with the cost of living are going to be dragged through the courts, paying 1,000 euro fine and maybe even a brief period of imprisonment and a court action against them – where is the fairness?”

Mr Doherty also said a “triple-lock” will guarantee editorial independence, which would include funding allocations to be multi-annual and that Coimisiun na Mean would advise on funding requirements.

Mr Doherty said: “It’s also, as the commission pointed out, a regressive tax. So the person whose earning 20,000, as the Commission said, pays the same TV licence as the person who’s earning 200,000.

“It’s not just simply a case that you’re taking it off them anyway.

“Direct taxation is a far more progressive way than a flat rate tax and that’s why this is a regressive method.

“But if you follow what the commission has been saying, if you look at the trend in terms of TV licences, even before we had the situation where one in four have refused to pay the TV licence last year, the trend is very clear, less and less people are paying the TV licence.”

Mr Gould said the party also wants to see an amnesty for those who are being prosecuted for failing to pau their licence.

“When you look at the cost of the court cases, the time, the energy that’s spent on it and to be honest, to be bringing the person into court is a shocking waste of money but also of people’s dignity and integrity. So we believe an amnesty is the right way to go,” Mr Gould added.