Friday, June 13, 2014

Court: TV Licence Fees Don't Apply To Computers

Via The Local:

A Swedish court ruled on Friday that computers, surfing tablets, and mobile phones will no longer be counted as television transmitter devices, meaning Swedes will not have to pay annual fees to Sweden's TV licensing authorities.

A computer with an internet connection should not be classified as a television transmitting device, the Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen) ruled on Friday morning.

The case was brought to the court after the Sundsvall Court of Appeals rejected the claims of a Lund man who argued that his computer didn't even have TV channel-receiving software and that he shouldn't have to pay the fee.

The man was one of over 500 who had complained about the law, which came into effect last year.

Anyone in Sweden with a television receiver is required by law to pay the 2.076 kronor ($320) annual fee, which is collected and enforced by Radiotjänst, a division of Swedish public service broadcasting.

Radiotjänst collects around 7 billion kronor ($1.09 billion) per annum which is used to part-finance Sveriges Television, Sveriges Radio and Utbildningsradio (UR).

A 2006 law stating that anyone who can access an entire TV channel on any device is required to pay the fee came into effect last year when TV4 made all of its content available online.

The law stated that the fee would be applicable on any "device meant to receive the transmission or retransmission of TV programs, even if the equipment can be used for other means".

The court on Friday ruled that a computer, however, should not count as such a device.

While computers can receive television signals, they are not specifically designed to do so and it is not their key purpose - thus exempting them from the fee.

The court referred to the television license as a "cumbersome responsibility", and stated that the fee cannot be imposed on computers without "clear support from the law".

It was also decided that the man in Lund will get his money back, although Radiotjänst said they do not plan on reimbursing others.

"We believe we have done the right thing to this day. This is a new praxis and will be applicable in the future", Radiotjänst CEO Carl-Gustav Johansson said.

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