McSavage tells court he won't pay TV licence over way RTE spends taxpayers' cash

David McSavage
David McSavage

COMEDIAN David McSavage told a judge today that he did not pay his TV licence because he had a grievance with the way RTE spend taxpayers' money.

The Savage Eye star was summonsed by An Post to court for not having a TV licence at his address at Kingsland Parade in Dublin 8 on May 7 last year.

In recent media interviews the comedy writer and performer claimed he would not pay the €160 TV licence and was prepared to take a stance and go to jail in protest at the quality of programmes on the national broadcaster.

However, after the hearing at Dublin District Court, he told reporters : “It is one thing saying it, another thing doing it”. He also said he did not understand what happened during the proceedings in which Judge John O'Neill gave McSavage a chance to pay €115 arrears and avoid a hefty fine along with a court conviction.

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, it is a prosecutable offence to be found in possession of an unlicensed television set. Fines for an unlicensed television set can be up to €1,000 for a first offence and €2,000 for subsequent offences.

A TV licence inspector told Judge O'Neill that he called to the entertainer's home on May 7 last and McSavage confirmed he lived there and was in possession of a television set but had no licence. However, a licence was taken out on March 31 this year leaving arrears of €115, the inspector told the court.

Judge O'Neill told McSavage he now had a licence asked him his attitude.

Dressed in a suit and overcoat, McSavage, known for his edgy comedy, told the court:

“The reason I didn't pay it is I have genuine concerns as to the use RTE makes of taxpayers' money. I have expressed these concerns in other forums and I've been advised to pay the fine.”

Judge O'Neill told him his reason was not a justification to which McSavage replied: “Yes”.

Judge O'Neill adjourned the case until June 16 and told him that if the arrears were paid by then he will not have to attend the hearing and the case will be struck out.

However, he also warned him that if they were not paid and he did not attend court to look for more time, “You run the risk of having a conviction recorded and a fine”.

After court McSavage told reporters he has not bought a licence and he did not know who had got it for him. “Unless,” he added, “Ray D'Arcy bought one for me, he said he would.”

McSavage who has/had charity gig tonight said he did not mind going to prison, but then said, “it is one thing saying it, another doing it”.

He also said he didn't understand the proceedings and when asked if he will pay the arrears he replied “Dunno” as he left the courthouse.

In 2009, he wrote and starred in the six-part TV series called The Savage Eye for RTE, which was nominated for an IFTA award for Best Entertainment Series and Best Director.

There were four series filmed by RTE 2 until 2014. He also appeared in Calvary starring Brendan Gleeson as well as Robot Overlords and Channel 4 series Comedy Lab.

The 50-year-old is a son of an Irish politician, David Andrews, brother of former Fianna Fail politician Barry Andrews and first cousin of Irish television and radio presenter Ryan Tubridy, and also cousin of former Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews.

The TV licence, which partly funds RTE, can be bought a variety of ways such as paying online or through a LoCall number using a debit/credit card: cheque at any post office or one posted to the local TV Licence Records' Office; direct debit, TV licence stamps or by cash at selected Postpoint outlets.