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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Rolling News Paul Murphy said the party believe the state should tax corporations who dominate the media landscape in order to fund public broadcasting. (File Image)
rte for the people

People Before Profit propose scrapping TV licence and funding RTÉ through a new 'Big Tech Tax'

The party’s self labelled “radical plan” proposes to increase RTÉ’s budget to €500 million through public funds secured by the new tax.

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT has proposed a plan for RTÉ and public broadcasting that suggests replacing the TV licence with a new corporation tax, targeting technology companies.

The party’s self labelled “radical plan” – ‘RTÉ for the People’ – proposes that the state should increase the broadcaster’s budget to €500 million through public funds secured with the introduction of a new corporate tax.

People Before Profit (PBP) say that the new tax would raise €1 billion, which would go towards funding not only RTÉ, but other forms of public media.

With the funds raised, PBP propose that €500 million of it goes towards RTÉ – for its new, increased, publicly funded budget – while the remaining €500 million would fund other public media in the state.

Speaking to reporters in Buswells Hotel earlier today PBP TD Paul Murphy said: “The license fee is just another regressive tax. €160 on every household, except a small number of households, regardless of the level of income of those households.

“People rightly see it as a regressive tax. And it should be scrapped,” he added.

The party say that the new corporation tax would charge companies in the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector. The rate on the tax would be 1%.

“We think we should be taxing these major corporations who dominates so much of our media landscape, and in order to fund proper public service broadcasting,” Murphy said.

The Dublin South-West TD’s plan, put together alongside senior lecturer in media studies at TU Dublin Harry Browne, says that the new tax “would be relatively simple to design as it’s based on a levy on the corporate tax that already exists”.

The party’s plan claims: “Taxing ICT companies to replace the licence fee and fund public service media is compatible with the recommendations of the Future of Media Commission.”

However, PBP propose that the increase in RTÉ’s budget would come with two conditions, the introduction of a pay cap for all employees and democratising the organisation by replacing of the current Board with “a Board representative of RTÉ workers and civil society”.

PBP’s plan says “the board should not be dominated by people with private industry backgrounds” and adds that the organisation should allow for workers and the public to have input on programming decisions.

Along with increasing the budget of RTÉ to €500 million, the plan also proposes putting an end to all advertising and sponsorships on RTÉ channels, caping all pay to end six-figure salaries in the organisation, and a ban on contractor deals.

Reacting to the plan in Mayo today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I’m not sure the public would support that quite frankly.”

He added: “If we had an extra billion euros of taxpayers’ money, giving all of it to the media wouldn’t be my highest priority to be very honest.”

Varadkar also urged members of the public to continue to pay their licence fee and said any additional funding sought by RTÉ would have to be worked out later in the year and be subject to conditions.

Additional reporting from Press Association

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