After a referendum in March 2018 threatened to axe Switzerland’s costly broadcasting fee, the government put forward a counter proposal, which was adopted when 71.6% of voters voted to keep the fee.
On 1 January 2019, the lower fee contained in the government’s plan will come into force. Next year, instead of CHF 451, each household will need to cough up CHF 365.
Virtually every household must pay the fee. The range of possibilities for opting out is very narrow. Only those who receive certain kinds of welfare, diplomats and their assistants, and those with no receiving devices qualify. Receiving devices include smartphones, car radios and computers with internet access. Those opting out must apply every year after they receive their first bill.
The new fee will be collected by an organisation called Serafe rather than by its predecessor Billag.
The amounts companies need to pay will change too. Those generating revenue less than CHF 500,000 will pay nothing while those with revenues over this amount will pay from CHF 365 to CHF 35,590 depending on their turnover – based on VAT returns.
Total fee collection in 2019 is forecast to be CHF 1.37 billion of which CHF 163 million (12%) will come from companies.
The Swiss broadcasting fee is high by international standards, partly because Switzerland has a small population and four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romanche).
Residents of the UK pay CHF 197 (£150.50) a year for the BBC, 46% less than residents of Switzerland do for Swiss television and radio.
Government press release (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
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