NEWS | 26 Oct 2017

Swedish proposal: New funding model for public service

The radio and television fee, which finances SR, SVT and UR, should be abolished and replaced with an earmarked tax. This is the proposal of a Swedish parliamentary committee, assigned to review the public service funding system.

In October, the Public Service Committee presented its proposal for a new funding model for public service, aiming to create a stable and long-term funding system for the Swedish public service media.

The committee proposed a special tax, to be kept out of the state budget and earmarked for public service. That is, the household license fee connected to the possession of a TV set should be abolished and replaced with an individual public service fee.

The introduction of the tax is proposed to take place in 2019. The tax should be paid by all persons from 18 years of age, having a taxable income (persons without income pay no fee). The sum paid will amount to one per cent of the person’s taxable income, with a ceiling of just over SEK 1,300 per year (compared with the current household fee of SEK 2,340).

Other proposals involve extending the broadcasting license period from six to eight years (starting from 2026), and abolishing Parliament's annual assessment of the fee amount. These proposals aim to strengthen public service media’s independence, and will require changes to legislation.

The proposal is supported by all eight parliamentary parties.

In June, the committee was given the supplementary directive of overhauling the terms for the public service media, when they face a new license period beginning in January 2020. This part of the assignment will be presented by the end of June 2018.

Read the full report (in Swedish):
Finansiering av public service – för ökad stabilitet, legitimitet och stärkt oberoende (SOU 2017: 79) [Public service funding – for increased stability, legitimacy and strengthened independence]

 

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 and Norway, where public service funding is based on a license fee linked to households’ possession of devices, alternative financing models are also being discussed.
In 2016, a Danish public service investigation was presented, contributing to the groundwork for the preparation of the next political media agreement. In Norway there is a proposal to replace the license fee with a platform-neutral media fee, but the issue is still under review (see also the report by the Norwegian Commission for Media Pluralism).

Read more in the international overview in the Swedish report, pp. 76-95 (in Swedish).

Download from Nordicom's table database (Excel):
Public service funding systems in the Nordic countries in 2017 (January)
Television licence fees or special taxes in 2002-2017 (million Euro)

 

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EVA HARRIE