Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte wants to set up a strong funding base for the national broadcasting service RTE and he’s as busy as Bugs Bunny arguing his point.
Fewer and fewer people are paying their TV licence. It now stands at 17 per cent. And his point is that this decline, along with the fall in advertising revenue, has hit RTE.
Minister Rabbitte’s proposed new broadcasting charge would apply to householders and businesses regardless of what technology they use to view the pictures. Pensioners will not be affected, which is generous, considering they don’t pay a TV licence anyway.
Mr Rabbitte was doing well with his excuse for another tax, until last week, when he said he was sure there are no cavemen in the country and that everybody watches TV. This brought a flood of letters to the newspapers, that dinosaur breed that Mr Rabbitte hopes to save.
It seems there are a lot of people in the country who are non-television viewers. One writer said he hoped his non-television dwelling would be reclassified as a “cave” and he would be exempt from the Property Tax.
Another said maybe the remark came about by Mr Rabbitte watching too many reruns of The Flintstones. Or should that be The Teletubbies?
Of course politicians watch television because they are always looking out for a glimpse of themselves. Or because they don’t read. Take Ronald Reagan. His closest and most influential adviser, William P Clarke, died last week. Mr Clark worked out that Reagan did not like to read so he drew pictures for him, a bit like the first pictures drawn by the first cavemen. He also used newsreels and other visual material.
Perhaps we should do the same with our teletubbie politicians. The Taoiseach could show his cabinet ministers graphics of state troopers choking people to death: “That’s what we want lads. That’s it”.