• Sweden's news in English

Backlash over income-based 'TV tax' plan

The Local · 11 Sep 2012, 16:05

Published: 11 Sep 2012 16:05 GMT+02:00

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“Being financed through the state budget would be hitting our independence, what is often referred to as the ‘arm’s length distance’ between public service and politics, very hard,” wrote newly appointed head of Sveriges Television (SVT) Cecilia Benkö and retiring head Mats Svegfors in a joint statement.

Currently, households in Sweden pay an annual fee of 2,076 kronor ($313), which is collected on behalf of the three public broadcasters (SVT, Sveriges Radio and Sveriges Utbildningsradio) by Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB, jointly owned by the three broadcasters.

In return viewers receive five TV channels, 45 radio channels as well as TV and radio on the Internet.

However, members of the government-appointed public service committee have written an opinion piece in daily Dagens Nyheter (DN), outlining a new system whereby an income based TV-tax should be paid by everyone over 18 years of age.

At the same time as proposing the changes, the committee stressed the importance of Sweden having an independent public service. They also suggest that the national radio, Sveriges Radio (SR), change from FM to digital.

"Despite most people being against a tax financed system, the committee proposes that the existing radio-and-TV licensing fee is replaced by a tax," Benkö and Svegfors wrote.

"We have absolutely no reason to doubt the sincere intention of the committee to protect our independence. But good intentions aren’t always enough. Swedish finance policy depends on the principle that money raised through taxation will be allocated through the state budget,” Svegfors and Benkö wrote.

However, both welcomed that the committee stressed the need for public service and the digitalization of the national radio.

Sveriges Television CEO Eva Hamilton was cautious in her evaluation of the propsed scheme.

“You’d have to be absolutely sure that a new system would be able to stay independent through potential future changes of government and economic crises,” she told news agency TT.

However, Hamilton agreed that there is a need for modernization of the fees system as it is possible today to watch broadcasts on all sorts of screens and gadgets.

But, she didn't want to take a stand for or against the proposed system until she had familiarized herself with it.

“There are alternatives to the committee suggestions of an earmarked tax and before I have read exactly how the suggestion has been worded and what legal structures will guarantee that the subsidies are separated from the annual budget decisions, I don’t want to take a stand,” Hamilton told TT.

The committee claims that the new scheme would be a way to get to the 12 percent of Swedish households that ought to be paying their TV license fee but don’t, costing the public service companies almost a billion Swedish kronor ($151 million) each year.

Story continues below…

However, Benkö and Svegfors are not convinced by this argument.

“Nowhere is it written that this extra billion will be guaranteed to the public service companies in the form of increased subsidies. There are no such guarantees as far as we can tell," they wrote in DN.

TT/The Local/rm


The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:29 September 11, 2012 by Abe L
I don't care how the fee works as long as it becomes OPTIONAL and we're not getting the bill stuffed down our throats regardless.

TV Channels in a language you do not speak are totally useless and I do not want to pay for them. We don't have cable for the same reason.
18:36 September 11, 2012 by Mb 65
This way it becomes easier for them to put it up every year. who watches 1-2-3-4 anyway they are so boring.. That's the reason we have the satellite TV. 45 radio channels the most i can get is 4.
19:39 September 11, 2012 by Elf_Moon
Erm... I don't watch TV. Why should I pay for an ENTERTAINMENT service that I don't use?

Next there will be a cinema tax, that everyone must pay, or a football tax...

It's an entertainment, not something that we NEED. I understand paying for fire services, healthcare and having the streets paved.

But paying for someone else to sit on a couch and get mindless and even some getting fat? O.o Excuse me? Wouldn't I have done enough of that in the UK with the lax benefits system? *sigh*
19:49 September 11, 2012 by Kevin Walker
I agree with the others above. The government commits a crime against all the people they force to pay for something they do not like

and do not want to have. The channels are so boring,just like the radio channels which I also can not get working more than 2.

It is totally not fair and the government knows that if they make the payment optional,then all the crappy channels have to shut down.

Most of there viewers are 70 years of old,so we are paying basicly for the old people.

What we need is a way to prove that we do not watch the channels or a way of stopping us recieving them by choice of course. We know it will never happen.

What we need to do is be like the other 12% and dont pay the licence. We have all read that they never prosecute them ,so what are we scared of. It is the only way to show we do not want the stupid boring channels. and then they would realise that 70% wont pay,so they must realise its time to shut down the channels.
20:11 September 11, 2012 by byke
The irony is, that both the government and the state channels keep referring for the need of independent channels. Yet they are looking to remove the right of choice to opt out in order to fund it.

Does a nation really need 5 state TV channels to ensure independance?

I would have thought one would have done the job, as long as private channels would be able to fill in the gaps.

But lets be honest, this has nothing to do with independance.

It has more to do with organized herding to ensure that information may be steered when needed through that of the media. If you look at the The Local, there is a large amount of government and political influence through advertising for the swedish ministry (far right lower corner) .
22:23 September 11, 2012 by Eric1
We don't have a tv tax in America but we do have public tv and radio. They are just a branch of the Democrat Party spewing leftist propaganda all day and all night. If you are a Conservative forget about getting a job there.
22:48 September 11, 2012 by Swedishmyth
More taxes...in Sweden. Are comments even necessary?

In this land of the upside down and inside out, funding something through the threat of force is "independent", while competing for voluntary customers in the market is "biased".
23:24 September 11, 2012 by Swedish Meatbulls
They Keep trowing around the English Word Public Service TV...

Sorry but Public TV means without the influence of politics ,products and adverts etc. But as long as SVT keep dropping in sly adverts. Like This Program is sponsored by Afonbladet, Harry Boy, Streck tipset THEN IT NOT PUBLIC SERVICE!!

BBC invented PSTV and even today they broadcast major events without adverts.

And well Im at it. what about in the public's interest when the Paralympics was on??? Nearly never got a mention in any Swedish media. Disgraceful

Sweden is a so called multinational country so what about all the other countries in OS and the Paras?? Digital TV with the red button technology? So we can chooses what games , event we want to watch! Just imagin if the Olympics was only on SVT Play..
01:12 September 12, 2012 by riose
To the people above: if you have a TV, you have to pay the fee.

It is not a service, it is a mandatory fee for having a TV. Even if you don't use.

There is nothing more unfair that a fee. A fee taxes proportionally more those who have less. I welcome the income-based TV tax, even though it will cost me more than the fee.

And those who complain that the TV is in Swedish, well, you can turn captions on and practice a bit. It helps me.
07:18 September 12, 2012 by Mpf
So at the moment you pay one fee per household. With this new proposal if you have 3 people over the age of 18 in one house they will all pay.

So they should see quite a rise in income then! On average most houses would have at least 2 people over the age of 18 instantly doubling their coffers.

They have been taking note of the stealth taxes raised in the UK.
07:48 September 12, 2012 by Cephalectomy
df**k is wrong with these people, i threw my tv long time ago and i only use pc, why the heck should i pay ?
09:13 September 12, 2012 by johan rebel
Come on folks, this is Sweden we are talking about, and Swedish TV. We can blindly trust them to replace the inane TV license with something worse.
10:20 September 12, 2012 by robban70226

They are just another Useless dictatorial compulsory socialistic group trying to justify their existence,

No other country still have suck licences,

If they are so valuable lets the users support them in voluntary contributions in fund raising and sponsors.

They are afraid to find out that hardly anybody really cares about the garbage they put on their programs?

the money collecting now is just going into waste justifying the expenses of favourites fat cats and useless people.

If they are not good enough to convince the people to contributive for their cost or enough merit to obtain sponsors they should be sold as private enterprise and shut the door. It is the 21st century!! the age of digital media in cell phones, tablets and internet, charge a fee to the TV and radio suppliers that sent it, but let the customer to choose if they want it or not, It is ridiculous to pay for services that I don't need or care.
11:29 September 12, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Swedes are watching less television than ever before. TV time has been replaced with internet time. Why should the state be in the television business at all? Why not privatize them? Why not solicit private donations, like PBS in the USA?
11:54 September 12, 2012 by Kevin Walker
Robban 70226, Your comment as far as im concerned is spot on.

could not agree more with you.ONCE AGAIN WHY THE HELL SHOULD WE BE FORCED TO PAY FOR SOMETHING WE DO NOT WATCH. What robbing bleeders the government is.If they never prosecute the 12% that refuse to pay, God are they a clever bunch of people ,more power to them for refusing to pay for something they do not use.

SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS INJUSTICE right guys.We live in a modern media informed world ,where old foggy channels just dont cut it for people anymore.
14:26 September 12, 2012 by cogito
The government needs to confiscate your money to pay for Swedish TV and Radio's monolithic bureaucracy.
20:30 September 12, 2012 by Mark S.
All governments require their citizens to pay for services that some individuals do not use. You pay for roads, armies, office workers, courts, police, hospitals, social programs... the list goes on... whether you use them or not. TV and Radio are entertainment, but they are also important public services: They report news. (Insert comment about informed populace and democracy.) They distribute important information in the event of national emergency. (The fact that you did not have a national emergency this year is not an argument for not being prepared.)

I think the word "fee" should be abolished. If the government demands money, it should be called a "tax". So, the details of this dispute are exactly how the tax should be collected and how much it will be.

p.s. regarding #6: The US public radio/television is funded primarily by voluntary contributions by individuals and organizations, but it receives some funding from the national government. It is often attacked by the conservatives for being "too liberal", but in the view of many liberals it is "too conservative". (In the US, the most extreme conservatives complain about everything that is not as conservative as they are -- even on web sites that are principally about Sweden.) Any publicly funded media will be subject to the same sort of controversy, unless your entire public holds the same political opinions.
17:41 September 13, 2012 by cogito
"Public service" is always code for what the public does not want, but what government wants you to want. Give the public--that's you and me--a choice and they choose cable or satellite dish...and real news instead of state propaganda.

Those who get their news from dumbed-down SVT wallow in ignorance.

Whenever there is breaking news or important events are being covered by the professional channels, SVT shows programs on, e.g. the national ballet of Uganda.

Of course, producing a program on the national ballet of Uganda permits the "journalists" to take a trip and vacation in a charming African country. Paid for by your fee/tax.
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