NEWS | 15 Jun 2018

Future financing of public service in Sweden

The radio and television fee, which finances SR, SVT and UR, should be abolished and replaced with an earmarked tax. This is the Swedish Government’s proposal in its Government Bill "Long-term funding and strengthened independence for public service".

The Government’s proposal, presented at the end of May, is that the household license fees connected to the possession of a TV set should be abolished and replaced with an individual public service fee.

The fee should be a special tax, kept out of the state budget and earmarked for public service, to be paid by all persons from 18 years of age who have a taxable income (persons with no income pay no fee).

The sum paid will be related to the amount of a person’s taxable income, with a ceiling, which for 2019 is expected to be just over SEK 1,300 (compared with the current household fee of SEK 2,400). The amount of the tax will be calculated annually in relation to the income base amount, which means that it follows the general income development.

Other proposals involve extending the broadcasting license period from six to eight years; making Parliament’s decision on the fee amount valid for the whole license broadcasting period, replacing the current annual assessment; and clarifying that the fee may only be used for public service operations.

The proposals aim to create a long-term stable financing system which is perceived as legitimate by taxpayers and which protects the independence of public service. The proposals are expected to enter into force on 1 January, 2019.

The future conditions for public service media in Sweden are also being drafted by an inquiry overhauling the terms for public service media facing a new license period in 2020. The result of this inquiry will be presented in the coming weeks (19 June).

Read more:
Government Bill 2017/18: 261: Långsiktig finansiering och stärkt oberoende för public service [Long-term funding and strengthened independence for public service]


About public service funding in the Nordic countries:
In Iceland and Finland, the license fee was replaced with a special tax in 2009 and 2013, respectively. In Denmark a political agreement was reached in March to replace the license fee with tax financing (the licence fee system will be gradually phased out beginning in 2019, to be fully abolished in 2022). In Norway, alternative financing models are being discussed (see the Government proposal to replace the license fee with a platform-neutral media fee and the report by the Norwegian Commission for Media Pluralism), but the issue is still under review.

Download from Nordicom's table database (Excel):
Public service funding systems in the Nordic countries in 2018 (January)
Television licence fees or special taxes in the Nordic countries 2002-2018 (local currencies and Euro)



Parliament decision: On November 14, 2018, the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) decided on a new law on the financing of public service radio and television, following the proposals from the Government. The decision means, among other things, that the radio and television licence fee, paid by all households with a television, is replaced by a public service fee that is individual. The new law and other legislative amendments will apply on January 1, 2019.

Find the new law: Lag (2018:1893) om finansering av radio och tv i allmänhetens tjänst
Read the Committee on Culture's report and the Riksdag's decision (in Swedish)