Television licensing in Sweden
The current licence fee (Swedish: TV-avgift, literally TV fee) in Sweden is 2400 kr (€242) per annum since 1 January 2018. Until 1988, the licence fee was administered by a division of the Swedish state-owned telecommunications company Televerket, when that function was taken over by Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB which is jointly owned by the three public broadcasters Sveriges Television, Sveriges Radio and Sveriges Utbildningsradio.
The fee pays for five TV channels, 45 radio channels as well as TV and radio on the Internet. In Sweden, the term "television licence" (Swedish: TV-licens) was replaced by the term "television fee" in 1967, although Swedish people sometimes still refer to it by the former term. Upon the introduction of colour TV in Sweden in April 1970, an extra surcharge of 100 kr per annum was levied on households with at least one colour TV set. The colour TV surcharge was abolished in 1990 and the annual television fee was therefore increased to compensate for revenue shortfall.
The fee is collected by Radiotjänst from every household containing a TV set, and possession of such a device must be reported to Radiotjänst as required by law. One fee is collected per household regardless of number of TV sets, in the home or in alternate locations owned by the household such as summer houses. Although the fee also pays for radio broadcasting, there is no fee for radios; the radio license fee, originally introduced in 1925, was abolished on April 1, 1978.
Suggestions of replacing the fee with a mandatory tax which is collected together with electricity and water bills occur sometimes in the media. One important argument in favour of replacing the fee with the mandatory tax is that the television fee in its current form is a regressive tax, since lower income households pay a larger share of their income to the fee as compared to wealthier households. An important rebuttal against implementing the mandatory tax however is that all public TV channels in Sweden are neither owned by the state nor are they directly controlled by the government; instead, these channels are owned and operated as part of a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation (similar to the BBC in the United Kingdom).
Around 90% of households have reported that they have a television set and thereby need to pay the fee. However, the number of households not containing a TV set are considered by Radiotjänst to be a lot fewer than the 10% that don't pay licences. The personnel of Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB have no authority to investigate inside households (for instance flats on higher floor levels).
Requirement to pay TV fee for Internet access
In February 2013, Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB changed their interpretation of the Swedish television fee law. In their new interpretation any personal computer or tablet connected to the Internet is also considered a TV-set and requires payment of the TV fee. Between then and June 13, 2014, when The Supreme Administrative Court reversed the decisions by lower courts, who agreed with Radiotjänst's interpretation internet connected devices were supposed to be reported as TV sets. The reasoning is that the purpose of a computer is not receive television broadcasts nor are there any broadcasts on Internet since you have to request that the content is streamed to you.
Radiotjänst on June 13, 2014 stated that no fees for internet connected devices will be repaid. The reason being that until then the legal system supported Radiotjänst's interpretation, even though a superior court had nullified the support.
- "Radio and TV fee". Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- "Vem äger public service?"
- "In Sweden, TV Tax Comes to Smartphones", Gustav Sandstrom, Wall Street Journal, 1 March 2013.
- "Ingen tv-avgift för dator"
- "Important information regarding the ruling of the Supreme administrative court concerning fee obligation for computers, tablet PCs and mobile phones" Archived 2014-06-15 at Archive.is
- Lag (1989:41) om TV-avgift (The law governing Television licensing in Sweden.)
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