I have just posted a news item on our site in relation to the Broadcasting Bill 2008. This issue was brought to my attention and the attention of Fergal, IIA CEO, via various avenues so thanks to anyone who got in touch late last week.
The Broadcasting Bill 2008, if enacted as is, could create confusion and a possible loophole for an added tax on both consumers and business users of the internet. However, we hope to be corrected and that this is not the case! Please use the comments below to contribute. Check out our news item on the IIA site to get more details. We would like to ensure that those debating this issue are aware of this lack of clarity and clear it up now. I imagine the government would have a hard time justifying a licence fee on all devices capable of accessing the type of content described in the bill particularly considering the lack of availability of adequate broadband for many.
Within section 140 of the Bill there are definitions which may imply that any device capable of playing content produced for television might be subject to a television licence fee. The current cost of a television licence in Ireland is EUR160.00. A company with 15 employees using the latest technology could be looking at an annual charge between EUR2400.00 and EUR4800.00.
However the Bill also defines "broadcasting service", excluding "a service provided for viewing in a non-linear manner where each viewer chooses a programme from a catalogue of programmes, or other audio and audiovisual services provided by way of the Internet" The IIA is concerned about the lack of clarity created by these two opposing definitions. The IIA calls on the Minister Eamon Ryan to amend the legislation in order to clarify his intentions for internet users accessing audiovisual content via the internet in Ireland.
2008 saw the number of users of broadband in Ireland pass the one million mark. The IIA hopes that this growth will continue in order to allow businesses across the country to access the great cost savings that doing business online offers. The IIA fears that even a lack of clarity on this issue could cause a reduction in this uptake among both business users and consumers.