Poll: Do you think it's a good idea to hire a private firm to chase TV licence dodgers?

Ireland has one of the highest evasion rates in Europe.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

AN OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE will this week probe legislation that would allow the government to hire a private firm to collect unpaid TV licence fees.

The measure was unveiled earlier this year when the government approved Communications Minister Denis Naughten’s proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act 2009.

Speaking last week at a forum on financing public service broadcasting, Naughten said hiring a private company to collect the fee could “significantly reduce evasion”.

“At a time when they need to transition and adapt to the new realities, our public service broadcasters are struggling to meet their objectives under the Broadcasting Act,” Naughten said. “They need adequate funding if they are to compete and to commission Irish programming.”

Ireland has one of the highest rates of TV licence evasion in the EU with nearly 14% of television owners failing to cough up the €160 fee.

As a result, it’s estimated that the state loses €40 million each year.

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That’s a major hit for cash-strapped broadcaster RTÉ, which booked a loss of more than €2.75 million in 2015 and recently sold a pocket of land to finance redundancies and investment.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Do you think it’s a good idea to hire a private firm to chase TV licence dodgers?