I recently received a bill from Radiotjänst. Radiotjänst is located in Kiruna (in northern Sweden) and takes care of the radio and TV licencing duties in Sweden. The company is a subsidiary of Sweden’s three public service broadcasters: Sveriges Television (SVT), Sveriges Radio (SR) and Sveriges Utbildningsradio (UR).They said I had to pay SEK 2 076 ($311) for a one year radio and television license payment. The fee can be paid in four instalments of SEK 519.
Yikes! I didn’t have the money! It turned out that I did not have to pay the fee because it is paid only once per household, per year, regardless of the amount of TV receivers. (I don’t even own a TV in Sweden but I live in a household with several.) The person I rent my living space from pays the fee.
I don’t watch much TV but I know there is some great stuff over at SVT Play. I think it works in other countries, as well.
Swedish law says you have to pay if there is any kind of receiver in your household. Many people these days watch TV programming on a computer which technically has no receiver. I believe this is a controversial topic in Sweden but I don’t know the whole story. I also beleive there is talk of the fee becoming a tax rather than a fee that must be collected via the honor system (more or less).
Radiotjänst i Kiruna (northern Sweden) takes care of the licencing duties in Sweden. The company is a subsidiary of Sweden’s three public service broadcasters: Sveriges Television (SVT), Sveriges Radio (SR) and Sveriges Utbildningsradio (UR).
Radiotjänst communications director Per Leander told The Local in January, 2011 that “It is not a subscription fee. You are not paying to get something, but paying to fund a system that still has an impact on society. It is the same logic as paying taxes for prison even if you hopefully don’t end up there,”.
Leander said ”that revenues are not collected through taxes partly to minimise government influence on public broadcasters’ programmes and partly to ensure that their funding remains consistent every year.” The Local
Radiotjänst says on their website that it ”is not actually the individual programmes you pay for, but rather their independence. The principle is to be able to broadcast interesting, good, fun, serious, long, short, exciting or important programmes, free of political and commercial influences. And that is possible thanks to the radio and TV fee.”
Radiotjänst states, ”Public service is radio and television in the service of the general public. The mission of SVT, Sveríges Radio…is to provide the people of Sweden with everything from news and documentaries to entertainment and education – in an impartial and objective manner.”
What Do Other Countries Do?
“Large public service companies, such as BBC (United Kingdom), NRK (Norway), YLE (Finland), DR (Denmark) and many more, are financed through radio and TV fees in a similar way as in Sweden. It guarantees an independent financing of radio and television in the interest of the general public. And this is vital for democracy.” – Radiotjänst
”Those who do not report their possession of a TV receiver risk being reported to the police and fined, according to 22 § the Act on Financing of Radio and Television in the service of the public.” – Radiotjänst
Radiotjänst sends out radio and TV fee inspectors year-round to find private persons and companies who do not pay the radio and TV fee. -Radiotjänst
According to the Radiotjänst website, ”The inspectors use a list of those who already pay the radio and TV fee, and those not on the list are quite simply paid a visit. Our inspectors always show a personal Radiotjänst photo ID. They are not allowed to enter the household, not even if they are invited in. Neither do they accept any money when visiting. Instead, they document the information, which is then sent to the main office in Kiruna. There the decision is made whether one is required to pay the radio and TV fee, and if so, the invoice will arrive within a couple of weeks.”
I have heard numerous anecdotal stories about inspectors asking to come in so there seems to be a discrepancy there.
You’re Off the Hook If…
There is no radio and TV fee for a TV receiver that:
1. is owned by someone employed in a foreign embassy or a career consultant, if the government or the authority designated by the government has decided that there no payment should be made for the receiver,
2. has been brought into the country for temporary use and is duty-free,
3. is only in one’s possession for a trial period of no more than 15 days, or
4. has been permanently put aside or is unusable so far as it applies to the period after which the condition has been reported to RIKAB by the party obliged to pay the fee. Act (2009:1235).
Most Swedes Do the Right Thing
If you don’t pay, the deed “is punishable with a penalty in the criminal code. Act (1996:852). But it seems it is rarely a problem. According to the article in The Local, ”nine out of 10 or 3.5 million Swedish households pay the fees every year out of 3.9 million.”