Fine Gael are pressing ahead with their plans to replace television licenses with a broader “content tax” to be paid by “all households and applicable businesses, regardless of the device they use to access content.”
The programme for government agreed between Fine Gael and Labour promises to “examine the role, and collection of, the TV license fee in light of existing and projected convergence of broadcasting technologies, transform the TV licence into a household-based public broadcasting charge.”
The new coalition government will also “review new ways of TV licence collection, including the possibility of paying in instalments through another utility bill (electricity or telecom), collection by local authorities, Revenue or new contract with An Post.”
Other internet-related policies adopted by the new government include pioneering American-style “fair use” copyright laws in Europe, and supporting “the development of an International Content Services Centre to make Ireland world leader in managing intellectual property.”
Presumably the proposed ICSC will track down file torrenters, illegal youtube uploaders and warez downloaders.
And for rural voters denied modern broadband connections, the coalition has unveiled a radical new information and data transfer system. We quote: “A universal postal service is an essential public service, in particular for rural communities and those disadvantaged communities affected by digital divide.
“A publicly owned, commercially viable, profitable and efficient An Post is critical to the long-term viability of the postal market.”
Early indications are that rurally-based citizens will be able to use data packets known as “letters”, which will be delivered “by hand” using a sophisticated system of “Renault vans.”
A nationwide network will support the system, as the government promises a it will ensure a “network of post offices around the country is maintained and that communities have access to adequate postal services in their locality.”