Ireland explores DTT financing options



Studies are under way at Ireland's Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to investigate exactly how DTT can be financed from a proposed commercial TV licence, and how this new type of licensing scheme should work. The feasibility study will examine all the practical issues involved, as well as the cost of collecting such a licence, and the report is due for completion by the end of April.

Communications Minister Dermot Ahern wants to introduce a new commercial licence that would be paid by all premises showing television to the public. Ireland has 12,000 pubs, 1,000 hotels and about 3,000 bed and breakfast premises, and a commercial licence could in theory raise €40 million a year; enough to finance the running of an all-Ireland DTT service. However, with a downturn in tourism gripping the Irish hospitality industry, a side effect of the current hostilities in the Gulf, the scheme may not prove to be popular.

The Department is weighing up such issues as whether a flat fee should be payable by all premises, or whether it should be on a sliding scale, related to the size of the establishment. The number of TV sets in any given premises will also have to be taken into account. Irish pubcaster RTÉ has made a number of suggestions to the Department on how such a scheme could work.