The Television License is a scam. A tax designed to prop up the massive economic failure of RTÉ (which consumes a whopping 86% of the money gathered by the license), the existence of the charge is nothing short of complete injustice. The tax has long been hated by many throughout the country for a large variety of reasons. By far the greatest one of these reasons though is that you shouldn’t be forced to pay for a service you don’t want.
Thankfully, up until this point that was the one saving grace about the charge — It was completely avoidable if you didn’t own a television. If you didn’t consume RTÉ’s pathetic excuse for content, then you didn’t have to pay for it.
Well, you didn’t have to, But you soon will.
On August 2nd, Minister Richard Bruton announced the plan to ‘replace’ the Television License with a ‘device-independent broadcasting charge’. This is of course a newspeak term for a universal tax that will affect everyone bar Ireland’s Amish community, which numbers around 75 people as of 2014.
This new tax, according to Bruton, will apply not only to Televisions, but to devices such as smartphones and laptops as well. The supposed reason for this change is that there are people consuming the ‘public’ content that aren’t paying the charge since they don’t own a TV. Never mind that this ‘public’ content available through the likes of the RTÉ player has more ads plastered all over it than your average New York intersection.
Even ignoring this fact though, Bruton’s claim is highly suspect. As we all know, RTÉ is a rather shoddy public broadcaster, and that’s putting it kindly. Without even getting into the political biases of the supposedly neutral organization, I doubt there would be much disagreement when I say that their content is substantially less than mediocre.
As such, to assume that a large amount people are actively avoiding paying their TV license, all the while actively searching out ‘public’ content online is nothing short of insane. RTÉ has put nothing interesting on the market since their mildly interesting crime drama Love/Hate, and that finished airing back in 2014. Why would anyone voluntarily click on the RTÉ player unless they were some sort of extreme masochist?
Even in the domain of Sport where RTÉ traditionally dominated, other companies have slowly began eating into their considerable market share. No longer is the public broadcaster the only show in town for your daily dose of sportsball. Sky Sports have famously acquired the rights to a number of GAA matches, and while Virgin Media and RTÉ have been trading blows over the Rugby Six Nations tournament for the last few years, Eir have managed to secure the primary rights to this years Rugby World Cup.
What’s more, one needs to remember that RTÉ isn’t purely a public broadcaster. Compare the company to the likes of the BBC. Yes, both are a den of marxist snakes who have produced some of the worst media content since ET on the Atari 2600, but at least the BBC has the decency to be advertisement free.
Meanwhile, RTÉ stop just barely short of forcing Ryan Tubridy to wear a Mattress Mick T-Shirt while hosting the Late Late. The execs at the company will stop at nothing to make a quick buck, including selling off some of their most famous in order to capitalize on the housing crisis. Despite all this, the company still frequently finds itself in economic crisis. Unsurprising considering that RTÉ fails in just about everything it tries to do.
In short, the ‘public’ broadcaster is no longer the big fish in Irish media it used to be. Despite this fact though, both itself and the government are adamant on still treating it that way. A sensible administration would have privatised RTÉ years ago, and would have scrapped what amounts to the propaganda tax known as a Television License, and would instead fund any cultural ventures through general taxation.
What they would not do is expand the propaganda fee so as to ensure RTÉ can continue being a bad company. RTÉ, despite double dipping in both private and public funding cannot get it’s own economic affairs in order, and instead of letting the damn thing die already under the closed fist of the free market, the morons in Fine Gael believe it’s better to keep the palsied institution around for a bit longer. Sure, if RTÉ disappeared, who would force diversity and inclusion down the public’s throat?
This is what makes this expanded charge so disgusting. The expansion of the authoritarian tax is not being done for the good of the general public, but for the good of those who rule over them. The established powers of this country want not only for the public to be programmed by the entitled pseudo-aristocrats at RTÉ, but to also pay for that privilege. The public is expected to pay for their own subversion, and that can’t stand.