€1280 worth of licence fees. That’s about 91 in flip flops.
Take a look at that picture. That’s all my recent licences, with one recent one missing for some reason but which I paid. But the point is that I pay my licence fee. Although I’m not a socialist, I do my socialist duty when it is required. I paid the water tax. I pay my Local Property Tax. And yes, I paid my TV licence because I genuinely believe in the Public Service Broadcasting model.
But I’m not so sure I’ll pay this year for the simple reason that if I do, I think people in RTE might laugh at me, and think I’m that classic thing in Ireland.
The gullible mug. The dope who obeys the rules. The fella who seperates his cardboard and general waste, and pays the bin tax, and obeys the law, and sees lads tipping bags of rubbish into ditches or gurriers with 150 previous convictions walking out of court because a judge on a salary and pension package equivalent to a lotto win thinks he deserves yet another chance.
Unlike so much stuff which leaves the Diligent Obeyer of Prosecutions and Edicts (DOPE) in Ireland frustrated, this is one way I can make my feelings heard.
I can deny RTE my €160 (That’s just over 11 pairs of flip flops, to put it in RTE speak). If I and others like me don’t pay in our thousands, we could cripple RTE. We have actual power.
As I said, I’m pro-RTE. I don’t want to live in a Fox News/MSNBC poisoned society where commercial interests realise (as Rupert did) that there’s money to be made in making half the country hate the other half. I want a broadcaster we all watch to some degree and bitch about equally. I like John Drennan and Cheap Irish Homes and election night.
But I also want RTE to prove to me that €5k in flip flops can’t be ordered when the spotlight is off RTE. No Kevin Bakhurst, it’s not enough to talk about new personnel and new structures. They can become infected by the same culture over time.
Transparency is the solution. Announce that from January 1 2024, RTE will publish online every single invoice it pays within 30 days of paying it, for the public to see and scrutinise. The time line will allow you to drop suppliers who refuse, and name and shame them in an Oireachtas committee if they threaten to sue. No minister will try to stop you, even if they’re appalled at the idea, for fear you tell the public they tried to stop you. You can set a beacon for the whole public service and every taxpayer-funded NGO, challenging them to follow RTE’s lead of spending the taxpayer’s money behind a pane of very clear glass.
Do that, and I’ll happily pay my €160.