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iPad owners to pay Swedish TV licence fee

Published: 22 Jan 2013 12:11 GMT+01:00

On Tuesday, SVT CEO Eva Hamilton used an opinion article published in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper to announce the state broadcaster would soon offer its entire broadcast line-up free of charge online.

While the change will allow viewers to browse through SVT's entire repertoire on tablet computers as well as smartphones, it also means that people who exclusively consume programmes and news via the internet will be covered by Sweden's TV licence fee.

SEE ALSO: Stockholm iPad 'magic' a surprise YouTube hit

Currently, anyone with a television receiver is required by law to pay the 2,076 kronor ($320) annual fee, which is collected and enforced by Radiotjänst, a division of Swedish public service broadcasting.

A representative from the agency confirmed with technology magazine Computer Sweden that SVT's move would mean the agency would start collecting the fee from people who didn't own a television, but did own a computer or tablet device.

SVT's Hamilton, however, downplayed the impact of SVT's move on fee collection policies.

"There has been a law in place since 2006 that states that a person who can access an entire TV channel on any device is required to pay the fee," Hamilton said.

"When (private broadcaster) TV4 put all their channels on the web last autumn that law came into effect."

Radiotjänst collects some 7 billion kronor per annum which is used to part-finance Sveriges Television, Sveriges Radio and Utbildningsradio (UR).

The TV licence system does not take into account when, if or how viewers use any of the channels or services which are funded by it.

Despite the move, the actual effect of the new licencing system will be negligible, as nine out of ten Swedish households already pay the fee. An estimated 97 percent of Swedes watch television.

On its website, Radiotjänsten includes most types of technology that can receive content, although it does not mention mobile phones with an internet connection.

While iPads will be covered by the new fee, smartphones will likely be exempt.

"The spectrum of mobile phones is so broad and we don't see their primary use as being watching a single TV channel," Radiotjänsten spokesman Johan Gernandt told Computer Sweden.

SEE ALSO: Spotify launches new app for Apple's iPad

Given the technological developments, Hamilton suggested that the state broadcaster merge with the educational channel Utbildningsradion (UR).

"With the technical demands we are facing on publishing on new platforms, it isn't feasible to invest in developments in two separate organisations with such similar production," she wrote.

Pooling resources, she argued, could also mean investment was diverted into higher quality programming.

TT/The Local/at

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Your comments about this article

13:28 January 22, 2013 by DAVID T
Cheap at half the price
14:00 January 22, 2013 by Rishonim
Giving the poor quality of their programming, they should instead be offering incentives for people to watch their garbage. My advise to people planning to buy a TV from anyone of those electronics joints to pay cash and not provide your name or address to the clerk. It is common practice for retailers to divulge the name of every customer that purchased a tv to Radiotjänsten.
14:56 January 22, 2013 by just a question
Well, they show Game of Thrones, sometimes interesting documentaries. The rest is crap. By the way, what is the salary of people working in the public TV?
14:56 January 22, 2013 by rfmann
Great business model --- identify a technology most people have in their home, claim that they use it to "enjoy" your content, then collect fees from them. If a new technology appears that might take over from the previous one, just repeat the process.

It's amazing that this stuff is legal.
15:04 January 22, 2013 by john201004
Why don't simply ask every household to pay the TV fees instead???????
15:53 January 22, 2013 by ragdoll
I haven't paid this thing in the 7 years I've been here. What can they do?
16:27 January 22, 2013 by Snood
@ ragdoll: They could ask you really nicely? and if you don't pay, they could ask again a bit more sternly?
17:17 January 22, 2013 by just a question
if you don't pay they will come and visit you. Well, at least they ask. In most of the countries they just take the money.
17:35 January 22, 2013 by Mb 65
Never watch any of these Not even the weather forecast because that's always wrong. Just buy your ipad abroad.
17:44 January 22, 2013 by otwa
what the hell is that? TVs earns billions, why do they charge money for watching crappy TV programs and shows 15 min advertisement each 15 min with a louder volume. If TVs are not profitable in Sweden then they should sale it to foreign owners. In foreign countries, TV owners are hell rich, they even buy football clubs for fun.
18:16 January 22, 2013 by muscle
so right now and soon to be, computers laptop cellphones... meaning organizations will require to pay it as well, as they have internet connections and they have computers. amazing
18:49 January 22, 2013 by Reason and Realism
@ #2 Rishonim states

'It is common practice for retailers to divulge the name of every customer that purchased a tv to Radiotjänsten'

Can someone who works in an TV+audio shop or Radiotjänsten confirm if this is a rumour, or the truth?
19:01 January 22, 2013 by cogito
They'd have to pay me to watch Swedish state TV. It's too awful.

#3 asked how much SVTs employees make? Some, the management, quite a lot. They also have highly paid outside consultants. Then there's the vast bureaucracy they seen to need to produce a few amateurish programs.
21:42 January 22, 2013 by BackpackerKev
Is this fee for any items that could possibly used to see the godaweful shiet streaming, and does this still apply to those that have or do purchased various swedish tv shows thru itunes where many people have already given the companies their money within the purchase?

Sound like a big bag of shiet if your asked to pay twice to view the same item.
23:00 January 22, 2013 by G Kin
OMG. My rents was raised for the third time since October 2012 because of " Framtid brodband"! Called the housing company and was told the internet connection is counted as standard charge just like the washing room!

Now TV tax even for Ipads, computers etc. This added to the already sky high taxes...
00:28 January 23, 2013 by Eric1
Greed. There is no greed like government greed.
08:28 January 23, 2013 by becksoz1
How can you control this? Is it for direct 3G access or via your home wifi service, and no doubt those who do not already pay a licence will find a way around it.

That said, as I pay the licence I do expect to be able to watch Swedish television when I travel outside Sweden, but always it is then blocked as 'not available in your region'.

You have to not just charge the fee, but also provide the service!!
08:31 January 23, 2013 by reader
So will they also charge a "just in case you watch Swedish TV" tax to visiting people from abroad? They could add it to hotel bills, or even add it to the road tax system as recently started in Gothenburg... as If we don't pay enough tax already here in Sweden... I can guarantee the East African refugees will have it paid for them....
09:30 January 23, 2013 by ragdoll
Thanks for the advice. So they can do nothing if I don't pay. I guess I'm not paying. Some guy showed up to the house last year and I threw a fit and haven't heard since.

What a racket. Some wise politician should run on doing away with this. There are dozens of channels that seem to do fine via advertising because their programming gets viewers. Then there are these channels who are trying to force people to pay money whether or not they watch their programming. I don't see a lot of people on IPads watching these channels on the train. Its just a sneaky ploy to manipulate a rule and get money they have done nothing to earn. There should be a line of people outisde Ms. Hamilton's office raising hell.
10:05 January 23, 2013 by Keith #5083
I don't want tv. I don't have tv. I haven't had tv for 25 years. I live out in the forest amngst the hills and manage to get an average ca. 1MB download speed, which is pretty restricting for YouTube. Tv would be almost impossible, though I admit I have never tried.

There is an easy way for justice to be served in this matter: logging on for a Swedish TV channel via internet/tablet pc should require a password that, for example, could be the licence number or a code issued by radiotjänst.
10:21 January 23, 2013 by geoff44
I don't have tv. I haven't had tv for 25 years and I haven't missed it!. I don't want tv. Furthermore,I live out in the forest amongst the hills, if I can average a 1MB download speed then I am doing well (regularly tested with Speedtest). I can stream YouTube uninterrupted between 2.00 am and 5.00 am. I guess the net gets busy at other times. Now I am expected to pay for a service I don't want and will probably not be able to stream satisfactorily. Why can't we have a simple system for logging on to watch Swedish tv on a pc/tablet? You know, like using your license number or a number issued by radiotjänst when you buy your license. Not foolproof I know, but apparently neither is the present system.
10:33 January 23, 2013 by cogito
ComHem, the cable company for most of Stockholm (there is no choice), turns you over to the authorities. A few days after buying a digital box from them, I got a call from Radiotjänst asking about the digital box...

@ragdoll (#19). I'd vote for the politician/party that promises to close Sveriges Television/ Sveriges Radio. The money they waste could be put to use to improve health care.
14:41 January 23, 2013 by markusd
An honest business would try to provide products that people are free to purchase based on their merits. Having the government force people to pay for a product they don't want or need so you can line your pockets or so you can get a discount on your entertainment sounds like greed to me. And it's a pretty pathetic business model.
01:00 January 24, 2013 by oddsock
The head of SVT earns over 2 million SEK a year. Somebody has to pay for it! (Not me)
19:10 January 25, 2013 by tadchem
The government needs to wake up and smell the Reality flowers. Technology and culture are changing far faster than hidebound lawmakers can keep up. Here in the US government-sponsored TV is dying out. Fewer than 10% of Americans watch TV news any more - most learn of news from the Internet, from Tweets, from Facebook, and so on.
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