Computers owners to face TV licence fees

Sweden's television licensing agency Radiotjänst is preparing to push through measures requiring computer owners to pay the annual television license fee of around 2,000 kronor ($327).

The move comes just days after Sveriges Television (SVT) announced plans to begin broadcasting all its programmes live on the internet.

“It is our interpretation that a computer may be considered a licensable piece of equipment if an entire channel’s scheduled programming is available over the internet,” said Anna Pettersson, CEO of Radiotjänst.

Since Sweden’s public service broadcasting laws are “technology neutral”, a computer will incur the same licence costs as a television if the same service is available on both.

People who have already paid their TV licence fee — some 90 percent of Swedish households — will not be required to pay extra for their computers.

But the move could affect many students, who for financial reasons may have a computer with an internet connection but no television.

The change will however not affect communal student houses where there is a TV for which the fee has already been paid.

“For households like these it doesn’t matter how many transmitters there are,” said Pettersson.

In Germany, similar measures were put in place in 2007. There however, computers with internet connections were equated with radios, meaning that the licence fee amounted to €66, considerably less than the €204 ($322) charged for a full television licence.