Own a computer? Better get a TV License.

There’s been a bit of noise recently about some amendments to the Irish Broadcasting Bill which is going before the Dáil very soon. Apparently the wording is being amended such that it could be construed that if you have a computer, but don’t own a TV, you should have a TV license as you ‘could’ receive TV through your computer.

I’m having trouble tracking down absolute definite information about this and so have sent an email to Minister Eamonn Ryan requesting clarification.

My email is as follows:

Dear Mr. Ryan,

I have been recently informed of some amendments to the Broadcasting Bill of 2009, which I believe you are sponsoring. I have found it difficult to find reliable sources of information about this and felt it prudent to ask you directly what these amendments will exactly entail.

I believe that it is the intention to amend the Bill such that any premises that contains a computer will be liable to pay a TV license. I own no television but there are 6 computers under the roof of my house. I do not watch RTÉ online and am concerned that I will become liable for a TV license despite having made a conscious choice to neither own or watch television since 2000.

Please can you clarify exactly what the situation is with the proposed amendments, and whether I will automatically become liable because I own a computer.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Leonard

I’ll be interested to hear his response and will publish it here when it arrives.

Our own situation is that we have a 42″ LCD screen in our living room which is attached to a computer. On this we watch DVD versions of TV shows and films etc. I made a conscious choice to give up on broadcast TV about 8 years ago (on moving out of my parent’s house), and have never paid a TV license or owned a ‘television’. I have little or no interest in RTÉ broadcasts, and even with the new player they’ve launched I can’t see myself watching shows they put out.

I do not feel that I should be required to pay a TV license, and perhaps this amendment to the bill will not make me liable, but I’d like word from the horse’s mouth on this one.

There’s some further reading at the links below:

I think it’s somewhat fatuous to refer to this as an ‘Irish Internet Tax’, as that’s really not what this is about 1. However I think there’s a valid concern about this and I’d like to hear some clarification as to what this actually means.


I received a response to my letter above from the Minister, and figured it was long enough to justify it’s own post. You can read the update over at https://alex.leonard.ie/2009/05/17/ministerial-response/

  1. And as one person pointed out, careful what you go saying, or you could give Biffo the bright idea of implementing an Internet Tax – sure everything else is being taxed to the hilt, why not the internet.