This is the second attempt in a decade to reorganise RTÉ funding, after the earlier proposal for a universal “screen” fee foudered on anti-tax sentiment.
This idea is likely to sink too. RTÉ just isn’t that popular with politicians. The broadcaster’s news division, even under current cutbacks, has a habit of asking awkward questions just often enough to justify itself to the viewing public, if not to the subjects of its inquiries.
Happily for TDs shying from accountability, people who wouldn’t pay a direct fee for water pipes are unlikely to want larger bills to keep Ryan Tubridy in a six figure salary, which is how increased funding will be framed by opponents. An already struggling government isn’t going to push too hard against angry voters.
Complicating the picture is the increasingly fractured relationships between news, social media and politics. Trying to buy off papers by merging the licence funds with the rumblings about Google or Facebook paying a media tax might be popular with media owners, but no one else will care.
If the last ten years have shown anything, it is that people will do everything they can to save journalism, with the exception of paying for it.