One franc a day: the cost of the radio-television fee from 2019

Bern, 18.10.2017 - CHF 365 per annum: this is the level of the radio-television fee which all Swiss households will have to pay from 1 January 2019. The fee is currently CHF 451 and is still linked to the possession of a radio or TV reception device. In its meeting on 18 October 2017, the Federal Council fixed the amount and the date of entry into force of the new radio-television fee. It also confirmed that businesses will be exempted as long as their annual turnover is below CHF 500'000. The remaining businesses will be subject to a sliding scale fee, depending on their turnover.

The new radio-television fee, approved by the electorate in June 2015, will be introduced on 1 January 2019. From this date, all Swiss households will contribute to the funding of the SSR-SRG and the regional radio and television stations at a rate of 1 franc a day, or CHF 365 per annum, instead of the current CHF 451. People who live in a collective household, for example in an old people's home or a student community, will no longer have to pay on an individual basis. In these cases, the total fee, billed directly to the body concerned, will be CHF 730. Persons receiving OASI/DI benefits will continue to be exempt.

The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), after consultation with the Price Monitor, will re-examine the rates of the radio-television fee in 2020 and every two years thereafter, with the aim of applying further reductions in the rates.

Exemption for three-quarters of businesses

As announced during the vote on the Radio and Television Act (RTVA) in 2015, all businesses with an annual turnover below CHF 500'000 will be exempt from the fee. Three-quarters of Swiss businesses will therefore not have to pay the fee. Businesses with a turnover below CHF 1 million will be subject to the same tariff as households, i.e. CHF 365 per annum. A sliding scale will apply to the remaining businesses, in five stages, extending from CHF 910 for a turnover between CHF 1 and 5 million to CHF 35'590 if turnover is over CHF 1 billion.

More money for commercial broadcasters, a cap for the SSR-SRG

The share of the fee paid to the SSR-SRG from 2019 onwards will be capped at CHF 1.2 billion per annum. Apart from index-linking for inflation (indexation), this amount will remain fixed. For their part, commercial radio and television stations holding a licence and receiving a share of the fee will see the amounts allocated to them increase. In 2019, the total amount will increase to CHF 81 million, as against CHF 67.5 million currently. This represents 6% of the total gross proceeds from the fee, i.e. the maximum rate envisaged by the RTVA. Furthermore, CHF 2 million per annum is envisaged as a support measure for the Swiss Telegraphic Agency (STA). If the proceeds from the fee exceed requirements, the surplus will be deposited at the year-end into an account; the Federal Council may then use this to offset any future shortfall in the proceeds or to reduce the cost of the fee.

Recommendations of the Price Monitor

The Federal Council will look more closely at the issue of reducing the planning reserves in the evaluation of the rates in 2020, and every two years thereafter. It is therefore implementing a recommendation from the Price Monitor [Surveillant des prix]. By that point, the experience acquired will make it possible to have available the initial values registered in terms of collection of the new radio-television fee.

The Federal Council is capping the share of the radio-television fee allocated to the SSR-SRG and to local and regional broadcasters at a level slightly higher than that recommended by the Price Monitor (CHF 1.281 billion instead of CHF 1.268 billion). This amount is the result of a motion approved by Parliament (6% for commercial radio and TV broadcasters) and of the Federal Council report on the public service in the media, published on 17 June 2016 (a cap of CHF 1.2 billion for the SSR-SRG). As it had already indicated in this report, the Federal Council, unlike the Price Monitor, considers it essential to adapt the SSR-SRG's and the local and regional public service broadcasters' share of the radio-television fee to inflation, in order to ensure they can continue to fulfil their mandates.

Reduction in administrative charges for those subject to the fee

The change in the radio-television fee system makes it possible to considerably reduce the amounts paid by households and small businesses. Two factors make it possible to achieve this goal. Firstly, those who will pay the fee - households or businesses - are more numerous because payment of the fee will no longer depend on the possession of a device. However, for five years households which do not have any means of receiving radio or television programme services will be able to apply for exemption. Secondly, the administrative costs of collection will be greatly reduced as a result of the simplification of the system.

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The Federal Council

General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC

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