Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

The Swedes Get It On The TV Licence Fee (Sort Of)

My regular reader will be unsurprised that I read the following news item with particular interest, given my many and sometimes coherent thoughts on the subject of the TV Licence Fee (formerly known as “the unique way the BBC is funded”):

TV licence system under review
The system of TV licensing to fund British public TV and radio broadcasting could be discontinued after 2013, after a majority of members of parliament expressed support for a new model.

Yes, of course, I’ve fiddled with the text. It’s Sweden’s TV licence fee being possibly read the last rites, but one can dream.

A BBC Radio outside broadcast van

How long before the wheels come off the BBC Tax? (Too long)

Or, in this case, suffer a severe case of deja-vu:

The TV licence system does not take into account when, if or how viewers use any of the channels or services which are funded by it.

Despite the fee being paid by nine of ten Swedes, it has become controversial with some questioning why they should pay for something they don’t use.

The development of web-TV services and the changing habits of viewers has further generated discussion over how the system is designed….

Being Sweden, of course, the next option being talked up is to fund the state broadcaster from general taxation in some form, though one incarnation of this at least has been rejected before.

Some may think it is better than the “current system [whereby] anyone with a television receiver are required by law to pay a radio and TV charge. The fee, … for 2011 is 2,076 kronor ($320)”.

This would actually be a small step backward, just as proposals to top-slice the licence fee here were flawed (and especially any idea to replace our TV tax with funding direct from government).

Critics argue that a direct tax funding would undermine the independence of public service broadcasting.

Indeed, though the same argument could be levelled at any form of coercive financing that relies on the government or parliament to support it. It’s all state funding, whether it is handed directly to the recipient or the recipient relies on the state for the right to collect.

Other alternatives under consideration are reported to be a separate tax levy along the lines of the burial charge collected on annual taxes.

I have no idea what the “burial charge” is, but a tax is a tax is a tax. Whether it’s the BBC or the Swedish broadcasters, in a free country there should be no place, or need, for a broadcaster which is in hock to the State.

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