Ministerial Response

I recently wrote about what some people were dubbing the “Irish Internet Tax”, a name which felt a little alarmist to me from the outset. The basic tenant of this new tax that was causing people ire was that any computer with an internet connection could be judged to be able to receive broadcasts from RTÉ, and would hence require the owner to pay a television license.

I decided, for once in my life, to actually contact the powers that be to request clarification of what this and wrote an email to Eamonn Ryan TD, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. I’m happy to say that I did actually get a proper response from him, or at least his aide, the content of which I reproduce below for your delectation.

Dear Mr/Ms Leonard,

I refer to your recent correspondence regarding TV licences for mobile phones/laptops/pc’s etc.

The Broadcasting Bill 2008 currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas (see Annex A below) will not require computer users accessing the Internet (through a broadband connection or otherwise) to have a television licence.

As the case with existing legislation (see Annex B below) a computer will require a television licence only if it is capable of exhibiting standard television broadcasting services (see definition in Annex A.  Key phrases are bolded) e.g. the computer is used in conjunction with a television tuner card or similar device and, as at present, if such is the case, a single licence will cover all the “television sets” in a household. A computer which is not capable of exhibiting standard television broadcasting services but can access programmes through the Internet site of the broadcaster concerned, for example, downloading programmes or clips from the RTE, TV3, TG4 or BBC websites or the RTE Player, or from sites like YouTube does not, nor will not under the new legislation, require a television licence.

I hope that this addresses your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Colm O’Conaill
Private Secretary to Minister Ryan
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

From the looks of things this addresses and nullifies any fears that people had about this being a thinly veiled new way of taxing Irish people and supporting the hulking beast that is RTÉ. The key phrase, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that a TV license will only be required if a computer is capable of exhibiting standard television broadcasting services, meaning that it will only come into question if your computer has a TV tuner card.

I’m happy to report I don’t have a TV tuner card and feel reassured that I’m in no danger of being required to have a TV license.

As I say, correct me if I’m wrong.