• Sweden edition
 
Swedish TV licence fees contribute to better society

Swedish TV licence fees contribute to better society

Published: 13 Jan 2011 14:25 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Jan 2011 14:25 GMT+01:00

However, Radiotjänst">Radiotjänst, the private corporation that is responsible for collecting the fees on behalf of the broadcasters, emphasises that viewers and listeners get a lot more than just public programming when they contribute to the country's public broadcasters through their fees.

"It is not a subscription fee. You are not paying to get something, but paying to fund a system that still has an impact on society. It is the same logic as paying taxes for prison even if you hopefully don't end up there," Radiotjänst communications director Per Leander explains.

Radiotjänst i Kiruna is Sweden's television licencing body. The private corporation was formed 22 years ago and is based in Kiruna in northern Sweden. The company is a subsidiary of Sweden's three public service broadcasters: Sveriges Television (SVT), Sveriges Radio (SR) and Sveriges Utbildningsradio (UR).

Under Swedish law, every household with a television set is required to pay the licence fee, currently 2,076 kronor ($300) per year. The fee is collected by Radiotjänst, but administered by the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgäldskontoret), a government body, by means of a special account.

Outside of the fees that Radiotjänst collects, the public broadcasters also receive small income streams from sales of paraphernalia such as those sold by children's television programme Bolibompa.

"Seven billion kronor is delivered to these companies every year, that's all they get. Ninety-nine percent of what they spend comes from TV licences," says Leander.

Sixty percent of the collected fees are allocated to SVT, 35 percent to SR and 5 percent to UR, although those who do not own radios are technically not obliged to pay.

Leander explains that revenues are not collected through taxes partly to minimise government influence on public broadcasters' programmes and partly to ensure that their funding remains consistent every year.

"They are not state radio or TV, but independent public services placed as far away from the politicians as possible. There is no fear of the consequences in terms of funding. If we went to a tax-based system, there is always the danger that the funding would get cut in a budget the following year," says Leander of the system currently in place.

Leander cited the example of the Netherlands, which switched to a tax revenue system 10 years ago and has since faced budget cuts under a new government.

Free from the need to satisfy advertiser demands for viewer and listener numbers, the public broadcasters are at liberty to deliver programming that commercial broadcaster would be less likely to air, such as operas and documentaries.

The ad-free format also allows public broadcasters to develop a loyal following, such as in sports programming, where SVT is the most popular sports channel, and attracting top talent without worrying about commercial obligations.

In addition, Leander points out that public broadcasters serve as a reputable watchdog in both the commercial and political spheres, a role less easily served by commercial outlets.

Nine out of 10 or 3.5 million Swedish households pay the fees every year out of 3.9 million, although Leander points out that no one really knows the actual number of households with televisions.

"I am surprised we get those kinds of numbers. I am confident of that number after asking lots of people," says Leander.

Leander believes Radiotjänst's success in getting Swedish viewers and listeners to pay is in part because of the positive advertising it uses in spots thanking the audience for its support, unlike in the UK, which adopts a more aggressive tone toward fee evaders.

Among those who refuse to pay, the most common excuse is that they do not own a TV. Strictly speaking, the licence fee applies only to TVs, so watching SVT content and and listening to SR programmes online are permitted without paying the licence fee.

"It is the law to pay. One can be taken to court for evasion, but it is not that common. Most European countries have licence fees, but many grant exceptions. We do not. Whether you are blind, deaf, a student, on assistance, old or young, you have to pay if you own a TV. If you encounter temporary problems, we offer generous plans," says Leander.

Although Radiotjänst only dates back to 1988, the system for collecting broadcasting fees in Sweden has been in place for over 70 years, emulating the system in place in the UK, explains Leander.

"We are working constantly to be more effective. It's not perfect, but it's working, growing and gaining more acceptance. It would be kind of stupid to change it. Why fix something that is working?" asks Leander.

Prior to Radiotjänst, Telia and its predecessor, Televerket, collected the fees for decades. Deciding that it no longer wanted the TV licence fee to appear on the telephone bill, it decided to spin off the division and "looked back on the shelf," as Leander puts it, for its name: the moniker Sveriges Radio went by until 1957.

Radiotjänst employs around 100 people, most of whom are located in Kiruna in northern Sweden and engaged in customer service, such as address changes and payment arrangements. Others are licensing inspectors stationed around the country. An additional 100 inspectors are employed on freelance basis.

Related links:

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

NEWS_NOT_YET_IMPORTED
Today's headlines
Stockholm Pride 2014
Stockholm Pride bars Sweden Democrats
Photos: Henrik Montgomery/Fredrik Persson/TT

Stockholm Pride bars Sweden Democrats

While a record number of ministers and party leaders will participate in the Stockholm Pride Parade this year, there are notable exceptions - including SD leader Jimmie Åkesson, who is not only 'uninterested' but banned. READ  

Gender neutral 'hen' enters dictionary
Soon 'hen' will be found on this page. Photo: The Local

Gender neutral 'hen' enters dictionary

The ever-controversial pronoun 'hen' has won its battle and is set to officially become part of the Swedish language. READ  

Pines, polska and magic: Urkult Music Festival
Photo: Danny Chapman/The Local

Pines, polska and magic: Urkult Music Festival

The Urkult music festival in northern Sweden may be less sex, drugs and rock'n'roll and more family fun, chai and polska dancing - but Danny Chapman says it’s one of the most magical Swedish experiences he has had. READ  

Presented by Stockholm Business Region
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
You want one of these. Photo: Skatteverket

Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm

When it comes to data-driven life, from daycare to healthcare, Sweden is in a league of its own. Above all, your personal number is the key that unlocks life in Stockholm. READ  

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

All aboard! We're off to the island of Gotland for our Property of the Week - a home right in the heart of Medieval Visby. Whether you're looking to buy or dying to look - this is the place for you. READ  

Stockholm Pride 2014
Stockholm Pride glides into seventeenth year
Stockholm Pride. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT

Stockholm Pride glides into seventeenth year

The largest pride festival in Scandinavia is back for the 17th year in a row. The week promises to be packed with activities - and a glamorous opening gala with Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst. READ  

Preschool teacher arrested for child rape
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Preschool teacher arrested for child rape

A man has been arrested on the suspicion of raping a child at the preschool where he is employed. READ  

Police arrest 17 people after fatal shooting
Police at the scene. Photo: Niklas Luks/TT

Police arrest 17 people after fatal shooting

Seventeen people were arrested during the early hours of Tuesday after a man was shot dead in central Sweden. Several of the suspects were already known to the police for gang crimes. READ  

Cops find 15kg cocaine stash in woman's car

Cops find 15kg cocaine stash in woman's car

A 35-year-old woman faces charges for aggravated narcotic crimes after police found 15 kilogrammes of unusually high-concentrated cocaine in her car. READ  

Opinion
The top six ways the US and Sweden differ

The top six ways the US and Sweden differ

Back home in the US and with a solid Swedish stint under his belt, contributor Steven Schier has listed what he thinks are the six biggest differences between Sweden and the states. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Blog updates

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 
 
 
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

732
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se