‘Reduce sponsorship of public broadcasting’

'Reduce sponsorship of public broadcasting'
The commission examining the future of public broadcasting in Sweden has proposed a drastic reduction in outside sponsorship, according to a report submitted to the Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth on Monday.

“Sponsorship is a direct exception from the advertising prohibition [on public broadcasting] and restraint is required. The current scope of sponsorship is too large. During 2007, there were 50 sponsored events and 400 broadcasts which had sponsors’ signs. It’s important that the possibility for sponsorship exists for large athletic events, for example,” said commission head Rose-Marie Frebran of the Christian Democrats.

“I propose a maximum of 20 sponsored sporting events per year, which is less than half the number today.”

The report, entitled “Continuity and Change”, also proposes that Sweden’s three main public broadcasting entities, Sveriges Television, Sveriges Radio, and Utbildningsradio, the public broadcasting educational programming division, continue to function as before.

The three bodies should also continue to be financed through a fee, finds the report, although the fee is to now be called a public service broadcasting fee rather than a TV-licence fee.

A reason why the fee will remain in place and not replaced by a tax financed system is that a 25 percent value added tax (VAT) ought to be added to the fee to allow the companies to be more effective from an economic perspective.

“The fee won’t be more expensive for viewers,” said Frebran in a statement.

Plans call for the VAT to be added to a lower base fee, keeping the new fee in line with the current fee of 2032 kronor ($340) per year.

However, by allowing the public broadcasters to deduct VAT income from the VAT they pay to external production companies, the new system will make it easier to purchase externally-produced programmes.

However, Sweden’s public broadcasters should also produce more genres, but work to ensure to programmes are of high quality, according to the report.

The report also called for the elimination of a rule which stipulates that at least 55 percent of public programming production take place outside of Stockholm. Such a detailed level of regulation isn’t appropriate, and the companies would be better served by choosing themselves how they wish to reflect the country, according to the commission’s report.

The report will underlie preparation for the upcoming renewal of the public service broadcasters permits for 2010 to 2015.