Under Irish law, everyone who is in possession of a device in their home that is capable of receiving a television signal, even if the device is broken, must pay the annual €160 TV licence fee.

The €160 annual fee is currently paid by 85% of Irish households in the State, netting €200 million a year for the funding of RTE. However, criticism against the TV licence has increased in recent years, having been described as an outdated system in an era of increasing variety of TV channels and audio-visual technologies.

Following a failed proposal brought to Cabinet earlier this week which asked the government to ditch the €160 annual fee, it is clear that this mandatory payment will not be abandoned any time soon.

Instead of a decision to outright discard the fee, Minister for Media, Catherine Martin has set up a working group to examine how the license fee should be collected in a more effective way, with the Minister saying that it needs to be much stronger.

“The licence fee will remain but will need to be updated to the way people actually consume media now and collection needs to be strengthened,” a government note reads.

Despite the mandatory fee looking set to remain, there are a number of certain groups in Ireland that are exempt from paying this fee as part of the Household Benefits Package (HBP).

These groups include:

  • People over the age of 70
  • Those in receipt of Disability Allowance
  • Those in receipt of Invalidity Pension
  • Those in receipt of Blind Pension
  • Those who receive Incapacity Supplement (for at least 12 months) with Disablement Pension (for at least 12 months)
  • Anyone who is caring for and living with a person who is in receipt of Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Anyone who receives Carer’s Allowance (full or half-rate payment), provided that you are living with the person you are caring for
  • Those who receive equivalent Social Security Pension or Benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations, OR from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement.

As part of the HBP, the groups listed above can choose to benefit from help with the cost of electricity or gas bill, or a free TV licence.

If you qualify for the HBP, you can apply for a free TV Licence from your next date of renewal, selecting the ‘Television Licence’ option on the HBP form when you apply.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*