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TV-fee body uses tough tactics on foreigners

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TV-fee body uses tough tactics on foreigners
12:38 CEST+02:00
Allegations of aggressive techniques used by TV-fee collection staff on foreigners in Sweden are on the rise. Meanwhile, the targeting of PC, tablet and smartphone owners to cough up the licence fee cannot continue, argues Moderate Party MP Lars Beckman.

Since February this year Radiotjänst - the agency tasked with chasing licence fees – have required all PC, tablet and smartphone owners with internet access to pay the national TV licence fee, since the gadgets now fall under the remit of a transmitting television.

"Although the law probably allows them to recover the television fee from people with computers, tablets and smartphones, it does not mean that the law must be applied in that way," Beckman wrote in in Svenska Dagbladet on Friday.

Following a string of complaints filed to the parliamentary ombudsman (JO), Beckman has now called on Radiotjänst's board to call an immediate meeting to resolve the matter.

"The most common complaint is that Radiotjänst interpret the law incorrectly, since a computer with internet access does not have the primary purpose of receiving television broadcasts," he added.

The fee, which currently stands at 2,076 kronor ($320) a year, applies to all owners of a device that can access television channels.

According to Beckman, the agency is facing increased challenges to recover fees from Swedish householders and is now reverting to foul play to enforce orders.

"There have also been allegations that Radiotjänst staff use aggressive techniques when they tried to collect television fees from newly arrived Swedes who do not know the language," he added.

"Most recently, a local radio station in Gävleborg reported on Radiotjänst's behaviour towards a foreigner living in the area. According to a JO complaint, employees used the fact that the individual did not understand the questions asked to get the person to say yes to paying a fee."

Beckman also argues small businesses are facing an extra financial burden and individuals should be protected from having to pay a double fee.

"A household may pay a television and radio fee for a private television in the home, but according to Radiotjänst a small business owner who has a work computer in a home office would be eligible for a separate charge," he added. "It's an absurd interpretation."

Beckman concludes that a quick resolution of the situation is necessary. "There is nothing to prevent a new model being put into place. Let's hope that this happens."

The Local/cd

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