A better way to collect the TV licence

Whether you’re happy about it or not, we have the TV licence here in Ireland, and it costs each household €160 a year.

According to wikipedia, it provides approximately half the revenue to RTÉ. But it must also cost an awful lot of money for An Post to administer and collect, and I can’t help but think there’s a better way.

Ireland has one of the highest pay-TV penetration rates in Europe – sitting somewhere around the 80% mark. And all those customers are divided between UPC and Sky.  So… why not get those two companies to collect the TV licence?

With a small tweak of their billing systems they could collect an extra €13 a month from all their subscribers, and pass the money on to the government. It would cut out the need to employ hundreds of administration staff and licence inspectors, and you would eliminate a good chunk of licence evasion – currently estimated to be at around the 12% mark.

For the 20% of people who get their TV through Saorview or free satellite, you could employ a much reduced workforce to check if they’ve paid for their licence.  The government, through a recent law change, already has the right to access the customer lists of UPC and Sky, and by cross-referencing against the An Post address database it could easily maintain a list of addresses who don’t have pay-TV and just target them.

And hopefully, by saving all this money in collection costs and reducing evasion, they can maybe cut the cost of the licence – or better still, make some better TV programmes!