Radio and television licence fee
All private households and organisations resident in Switzerland are required by law to pay a licence fee to receive radio and television.
With effect from 1 January 2019 the present licence fee will be replaced by a device-independent fee. The fee for radio and television is 365 Swiss francs per private household per year. Companies with annual revenues of more than 500,000 francs pay between 365 and 35,590 francs per year, depending on their revenues. The Federal Council determines the level of licence fees and their distribution.
With effect from 1 January radio and television licence fees will be collected by Serafe AG.
Who must pay a licence fee for radio and television?
Every private household and every company domiciled in Switzerland is subject to the licence fee. Whether radio and television programmes are received via satellite, an antenna or the Internet is immaterial, and so are the types of broadcast consumed. Households with no reception devices can, however, apply for exemption from the licence fee for the next five years (opt-out).
Households including persons receiving supplementary AHV or IV benefits can apply for exemption from the licence fee. Retroactive exemption is also possible. Foreign diplomatic personnel and persons who are deaf and blind and live alone are also exempt from the licence fee.
Why must everyone pay a licence fee even if they never watch television or listen to the radio?
Digitalization has totally changed the way we use media. All content can now be accessed anywhere and at any time, regardless of channels and vectors. Everyone in Switzerland thus consumes productions from SRG or other licensed radio and TV providers in one form or another, whether it is a Nouvo video on Facebook, the evening news on television, the music charts on Radio Bern 1 or "Echo der Zeit" as a podcast.
What matters is content, not the wide variety of distribution vectors. SRG and the private licensed radio and TV providers depend on licence fee income to be able to produce the high-quality, relevant content that could not otherwise be financed through the small Swiss media market.
Who is responsible for collecting licence fees?
Billag AG is responsible for collecting licence fees until the end of 2018, when this function will pass to Serafe AG. Serafe AG, a subsidiary of Secon AG with its head office in Fehraltorf, will collect radio and television licence fees on behalf of the federal government from 2019.
Do I have to register with the new collection agency?
No. Serafe will automatically send every household an invoice, using data from the cantonal and municipal registers of residents.
How much is the radio and television licence fee?
As of 1 January 2019 the licence fee for private households will fall from 451 to 365 francs: from 2019 a private household in Switzerland will thus pay 365 francs a year for radio and television. Collective households such as retirement and care homes, residential homes, penal institutions, boarding schools and centres for asylum seekers pay 730 francs. Persons living in a collective household therefore pay no individual licence fees.
Companies based in Switzerland are subject to a graduated system of charges. Companies with annual revenues less than 500,000 francs – three quarters of all companies in Switzerland – pay no licence fee. Companies with annual revenues between 500,000 and one million francs pay 365 francs per year, the same as private households.
What is the radio and television licence fee income used for?
88 percent of it goes to SRG. 6 percent goes to 35 private broadcasters: 13 regional television stations, 13 commercial local radio stations and 9 non-commercial complementary radio stations. These broadcasters fulfil the performance mandates set out in their licences. Another 6 percent goes towards the funding of a range of activities such as promoting new technologies, media research and fee collection by Serafe.
Why does SRG receive the lion's share of the licence fee income?
On the instructions of the federal government SRG provides the Swiss population with a wide range of radio, TV and online services in four languages. SRG divides its resources among all four of Switzerland's language regions, thus reinforcing national cohesion.
In specific terms this means that although over 70 percent of SRG's income comes from German-speaking Switzerland, only 43 percent of it is spent on services in the German language. The difference goes into services in French, Italian and Romansh. This redistribution makes it possible to provide a comprehensive range of services in the small markets of the individual language regions.
What does SRG spend the licence fee on?
About 75 percent of SRG's financing comes from public funds. The bulk of overall spending (86 percent) goes into SRG's own productions such as "Echo der Zeit" (SRF), "Il Quotidiano" (RSI), "Mise au Point" (RTS) and "Telesguard" (RTR). In 2017 SRG spent 38 percent of its overall expenditure on news, 23 percent on entertainment and film, 19 percent on cultural, social and educational programmes, 13 percent on sport and 7 percent on music and youth.