Sinn Féin will table a private members motion in the Dáil later today which seeks to replace the TV licence with immediate effect and introduce an amnesty from prosecution for those who have not paid the charge.
The party’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said direct exchequer funding should pay for public service media and the allocations should be administered by Coimisiún na Meán.
It is expected, however, that the Government will table a counter-motion to the Sinn Féin motion, arguing that it would be premature to make such a decision when Media Minister Catherine Martin is waiting on two root and branch reviews that she commissioned into RTÉ and which are due to report in the coming weeks.
Cork North Central TD Thomas Gould said: “13,000 people were in front of the courts last year for not paying their TV licence. If you multiply that by the €160 fee, it is €2.2m in lost revenue.”
In the party’s policy document, “Delivering Sustainable Public Sector Broadcasting and Independent Media Sector”, it states Sinn Féin also wants to provide €12.5m each year in additional investment in An Post, as it would lose the 7% commission for administering the licence fee.
Deputy Doherty criticised the government for delaying taking a decision on RTÉ’s funding model when it is clear across Europe that the licence fee model is being phased out.
He added that removing the licence fee would end the regressive nature of the charge, in which those who earn less shoulder a much heavier financial burden – as everyone has to pay the same flat fee.