TV license fee: No, the French were not in the worst case

TV license fees will be abolished this year to “give back the purchasing power” to France, as promised by Emmanuel Macron’s campaign. This tax has so far worried more than 23 million taxpayers. With the sum of 138 euros in mainland France, were the French so horribly spoiled compared to other European countries?

No, according to a parliamentary study published in 2021. The contribution to public broadcasting will be “particularly low compared to our neighbours”, writes LREM MP Céline Calvez, who led the report.

Over 300 Euros in Austria and Switzerland

Because elsewhere in Europe, it is sometimes necessary to pay more than twice the French amount in order to pay the tax. In fact, it equates to “251 to 320 euros, depending on region” in Austria and 312 euros in Switzerland, 220 euros in Germany, or 181 euros in the United Kingdom.

In these last three countries, the license fee is “universal”: all households pay the license fee, even if they do not have a television set. Officials believe that public service content can be accessed in some way, such as over the Internet. Unlike in France, where only those who have a television set pay.

In contrast, Spain or the Netherlands do not have a TV license fee. There, public broadcasting is financed by taxes.

The desire to remove everywhere in Europe

If we are concerned, this time, the funding of the public media for the number of residents, France is far behind the others: ranked 14th in Europe, “at a level equal to that of Slovenia”. On the other hand, if we look at the amount of public media funding in absolute value, regardless of the number of residents, France ranks third in Europe. With 4.1 billion in 2019, however, it lags far behind Germany (9.5 billion) and the United Kingdom (6.9 billion).

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It is not only in France that the debate over audiovisual royalty exists. Elsewhere in Europe, the controversy is also raging. In the United Kingdom, the BBC has seen its financial horizons darken this year, with the Conservative government’s decision to freeze license fees for two years, set for 2028, before its end. To continue to finance public broadcasting, the BBC said it was open to all options, including a subscription-based model like Netflix.

Taxes are also questioned in Switzerland. Last March, a popular initiative called for slashing radio and television charges. A request that comes four years after the failure of “No Bill”, when 70% of the population reaffirmed their desire to maintain a strong public service.

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About the Author: Rusty Kemp

Tv ninja. Lifelong analyst. Award-winning music evangelist. Professional beer buff. Incurable zombie specialist.

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