NewsWorldHow is public broadcasting financed in other European countries?

How is public broadcasting financed in other European countries?

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Participation according to income, levy on the electricity bill, end of free certain programs… At a time when the audiovisual license fee is about to be abolished by the French government, France 24 offers you a tour of horizon of public service media funding models in our European neighbours. After almost 90 years of existence, the audiovisual license fee is living its last months. President Macron’s campaign promise, the end of this tax was confirmed by the Council of Ministers on May 11. The executive assured that the tax would be “suspended from this year”. In the amount of 138 euros in 2021, this contribution to public broadcasting, which concerns France Televisions, Radio France, France Media World, TV5 Monde, Arte France and INA, is paid each year by 23 million households with a television. Its disappearance generates a loss of 3.2 billion euros of financing for these public media. a running budget over several years. “In other words, the vote, each year, within the framework of the finance bill [au Parlement], amounts that will be devoted to public broadcasting”, explains Julia Cagé, an economist specializing in the media, in a report which explores new forms of financing the audiovisual license fee. Indeed, the abolition of the license fee will be integrated into the amending finance law (PLFR) presented to Parliament in early July. “. Towards a paying BBC in the United Kingdom? In a context of declining purchasing power, France is not the only country to give up its audiovisual license fee. In the United Kingdom, where it finances three quarters of the resources of the BBC, the government of Boris Johnson has announced that it will be abolished by 2027. Several avenues are being studied across the Channel: the British Conservatives could authorize the broadcasting of advertising, close certain B channels CC, impose a tax on Internet service providers or even make certain programs or stations chargeable on the model of platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime, which would pose a serious problem of equal access to a public service. , the British continue to pay 159 pounds of royalties each year, or 190 euros. The royalties paid directly to public broadcasting in Germany , including France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Italy and Portugal. The French are far from paying the most for their participation in public service media. In Germany, this amounts to 210 euros per year, but the payment method differs. The fee is directly levied by an agency entirely controlled by the channels themselves in order to ensure the total independence of public broadcasting from the government, recalls Julia Cagé in her report. Another major difference, all German households are liable for tax – not only those with a television set as in France – on the principle that all Germans benefit from public service media, even without owning a television set, since they can consult the websites of these media on their smartphone, listen to podcast programs or watch them in replay. On this point, France was therefore an exception so far, in the same way as Ireland, Poland, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, more and more French people use their smartphone, their computer or their tablet to watch the productions of the television channels, even if – according to the Observatory of the audiovisual equipment of the hearths – the television remains the most widespread screen. However, its share is steadily declining, with 91% of households equipped with a television in 2021, compared to 93.4% in 2018.An income-based tax in the Nordic countriesIn Sweden, the fee of 250 euros was replaced in 2019 by a “public service tax” equal to 1% of the taxable income of each Swede, and not linked to the tax household. The most modest who are not taxable do not pay. While being more egalitarian, the new tax has made it possible to increase the financial resources of public broadcasting, notes the Cagé report, which invites the French government to explore the Swedish track. Another Nordic country to have innovated in the methods of financing its public media, Norway has introduced an individual tax by bracket according to income, leading to “a significant reduction in the amounts paid for the most modest households, offset by an increase for the wealthiest individuals, while maintaining equivalent resources for public broadcasting”. Finally, Finland proposes not only to make taxpayers pay according to their income, but also “companies, legal persons, cooperatives, municipalities, savings banks, investment funds and foundations”. It should be noted that business participation is also requested in Germany. Spain wants to tax Netflix and Amazon Prime Spain, for its part, has never imposed an audiovisual license fee, but the public media have long relied on state funding, and above all on generous advertising revenues. So much so that the European Commission criticized him for not respecting the mandatory 20-minute interval between each advertising break. But since the abolition of advertising on public channels in 2010, the country has struggled to finance its media. The government has taxed telecom operators for several years, but it backtracked last year and is now considering asking platforms streaming companies like Netflix or Amazon Prime to donate 1.5% of their annual revenue generated in Spain to national public broadcasting.

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