Westmeath Sinn Féin TD calling for TV licence fee to be scrapped
Sinn Féin is to propose a bill in the Dáil today (Tuesday) calling for the TV licence fee to be abolished and for public sector broadcasting to instead be funded directly by the Government, through the Exchequer.
The party's Westmeath-based TD, Sorca Clarke, said she was calling on Government TDs in Longford-Westmeath to support the proposal to scrap the TV licence.
A Sinn Féin policy document, 'Delivering sustainable public sector broadcasting and an independent media sector' was published this week by its TDs Thomas Gould and Pearse Doherty.
Deputy Clarke said her party wants to "abolish the licence fee with immediate effect and instead directly invest Exchequer funding in a platform-neutral Media Fund, which would support RTÉ and TG4 as well as public service content production and activities of commercial, local and community providers".
She added that Sinn Féin was seeking to introduce an "amnesty from prosecution" for those who had not paid their licence fee.
"Financial scandals at RTÉ have rocked people's trust and confidence in the national broadcaster and the TV licence," Deputy Clarke commented.
"The number of people refusing to pay has soared in the aftermath of these scandals.
"Sixty people per day face prosecution for non-payment. A staggering 13,000 people were summoned before the courts last year while no one has been held to account for the incredible waste of public money at RTÉ.
"Government parties are actively considering replacing the licence fee with a new household charge to be collected by Revenue. They are determined to continue seeing people prosecuted for non-payment.
"This needs to stop, and we need a funding model that delivers and sustains vibrant and diverse public sector broadcasting and an independent media sector.
"The public wants decisive action on this. They have had enough of the mixed messages from the government.
"It is now time to act. The Government must scrap the TV licence and fund RTÉ and other public service media through direct Exchequer funding," she concluded.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government would oppose the Sinn Féin motion on the licence fee, describing it as "a slap in the face to law abiding citizens who have paid their licence fee this year and for years".