Fake News and the License Fee



According to FF TD Shane Cassells the way to deal with fake news is to increase the licence fee for RTE. The reasoning being that quality journalism requires the extra funding. If the extra funding is not found, quality journalism may suffer.

This is all by way of introducing the idea of a laptop levy, in order to plug the loophole that “if you have a TV you must have a TV license”. Turns out lots of people don’t have TV’s anymore. It’s not clear if the new slogan will be “if you have a TV or laptop or desktop or iphone, you must have a TV license…” but it is most likely that if you have anything at all that can pick up a signal you’ll need a license. It may even be that you don’t even need to have a gadget. That it will be assumed that you do have a gadget, and that you need to have a license, even if you don’t actually have a gadget. In which case, the TV license is not much different from a poll tax.

According to a report from a committee tasked with investigating this situation, Ireland currently has the highest TV license evasion rate in Europe, amounting to some €40million Euro. Wow! What a lot of money. The other day, it was €500 billion squirreled away, and now today, €40million on TV licenses. Well, I know who I’d go after. Those TV license evaders, making off with 40 million!

But hold on a minute, does not having a license for a TV you don’t have, count as evasion? Surely if you don’t have a TV you don’t need a TV license, as the slogan says. And if the legislative change is being made to include laptops etc, won’t that increase the amount collected by the license. So why is the license going up as well? Increasing the fee in a decreased market share, due to everyone watching tele on their laptops, makes sense. But if you’re changing the rules to increase the share to include the laptops, do you really need to increase the fee as well? Is that not being a little “fast”.

There is also talk of tying the fee to inflation, so it will keep increasing year on year, on automatic. While this may sound a little scary to some, the prospect of being bled dry by your TV license during a spell of unusually active inflation, they’ll be gratified to know that there is a good sound reason for their financial sacrifice. It’s to ensure the survival of quality journalism in RTE.

The danger of not having an increased license fee to fund quality journalism from RTE, is that, according to Shane Cassells, we’ll end up with the type of journalism that breeds fear for political ends. Like warning the public that without an increase in such and such a fee, disaster is imminent. In this case, without an increase in the TV license fee, we could, according to Shane Cassells, end up like America, swamped in Fox-like fake news and self-serving propaganda.

So, if you can’t find it in your heart to dig deep for the programming RTE offers, stuff like Telly Bingo, Spin the Wheel, Quare City, Ireland’s Fattest [sic]Family and so on, do it for the journalists. You know it’s the right thing to do. Journalists as we know, especially the ones in RTE, are an endangered species, on a par with the white rhino. Do it for them and ensure a steady supply of real good news.