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Finland's "Media Fee" outrage Finland's "Media Fee" outrage
by Asa Butcher
2009-06-22 10:08:34
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Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "…nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes" and it seems those words are to be realised once again as the Finnish Government proudly pat themselves on the back following their discovery of a brand new tax, although they prefer to describe it as a "Media Fee". Even if you aren't a resident of Finland, I recommend you read the following article because it is only a matter of time before your government follows in these disgraceful footsteps.

Last year Finland switched off its analogue TV signal in order to usher in a new age of digital broadcasting, but if you wanted to participate in this new age then you had to own either a compatible TV set or purchase a Digibox receiver; neither of which were offered for free to the general public. Many of us - yes, I was among them - decided not to invest money in a digibox and dumped television out of our lives, which also meant we could happily cancel our TV licence.

However, it seems the 'many of us' was actually too many for the Finnish Government and the revenue generated by the TV licence was drastically reduced meaning that YLE, Finland's National Broadcaster and beneficiary of the licence fee revenue, was in grave danger of not being able to import the latest three year-old episodes of "Peak Practice", "Holby City" or, God forbid, "Last of the Summer Wine" - all broadcast yesterday! I'm sure you understand that the loss of any of these would have seriously upset somebody, so measures had to be taken or YLE might have to start broadcasting nasty money-earning commercials in place of their own self-promotion commercials.

A new tax! A new tax that everybody has to pay whether they own a TV or not! A new tax that we'll call a Media Fee but won't be shared among all of Finland's media, just YLE - well, the commercial channels are, err, commercial so they don't need the funding. Anyway, the people not watching TV probably listen to YLE radio stations and use the YLE website so that should justify it. Shouldn't it? If you still aren't sure, then a voice of reason, an unbiased viewpoint, may swing the balance and it came in the form of Communications Minister Suvi Lindén who has given her backing. I'm stunned.

It seems that YLE have tentatively suggested a modest media fee of 175 euros per household, which is about 50 euros lower than the current TV license fee of 224 euros because there will be more people paying - don't worry though, because the fee will soon rise to 225 euros before you even know it. Since this will be a tax that we have no choice to pay then there will be no need for inspectors knocking at doors because the Finnish Tax Office can ensure everybody is contributing towards the import costs of the "Father Dowling Mysteries".

A number of petitions have already been created and have garnered a number of signatures expressing outrage at this tyrannical tax, yet it remains to be seen whether the Communications Minister really is ready to live up to her job title and communicate with the disgruntled public. I can't see anybody changing their mind and suggesting that YLE begins to pay for itself, like its competitors, because who in their right mind would turn down such a guaranteed tax revenue, which is why you may see it appear on a TV screen near you in the future.

    
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