Many countries that have TV use a system called a "TV license". The idea is simple: you pay a yearly fee that allows you to receive TV as a whole. And the reason is simple: it funds the public broadcasters.
Throughout the years, many countries introduced and abolished licensing. Here's a few:
Countries that currently use a license:
In Japan, it costs ¥15,490 for a terrestrial license and ¥25,520 for a satellite license. It is required that every house in Japan with a TV should have the license as well. However, unlike the UK, there is no fine if you avoid paying it, and there has been an "epidemic" of people not paying it, due to a series of NHK scandals.
United Kingdom (BBC)
The most famous example, Trope Maker
and Trope Codifier
of the TV license is in the United Kingdom
, provided by The BBC
. As of 2019, the colour TV license is £154.50 and the black and white TV license (for the very few who still own one) is £52.
Under the law, it is classed as a tax, so evading the license is tax evasion and you can be arrested for it. The BBC operates TV detector vans which can supposedly detect if a TV is in use inside a house; the specifics on how they operate have not been made public and they only serve as a deterrent since further evidence is required to prosecute a license fee evader.
The predecessor to the TV license was the radio license, which dated back to the BBC's founding in 1922; it was initially 10 shillings
and remained at that rate until World War II. Pre-war TV broadcasts were covered under the radio license; the separate TV license was introduced in 1946 at an initial rate of £2. The radio license was raised to £1 that same year, then to £1.5s in 1965 until it was abolished in 1971 and rolled into the TV license. The colour license was introduced in 1968 (a year after BBC2 began colour broadcasts) as a supplementary fee of £5 over the £5 monochrome license. The BBC iPlayer is covered by the license since 2016; before then, the license was not required to watch it.
Countries that formerly used a license:
Australia (The ABC)
A radio license was introduced in the 1920s to finance the first private broadcasters, who were not allowed to run advertisements. When The ABC
was nationalised in 1932, the license was used to fund it and the interdiction on advertising for the private broadcasters was lifted. A separate TV license was introduced when TV broadcasts began in 1956. Licenses were abolished in 1974 by the Labor Party under the rationale that public funding would be a fairer method of funding government-owned broadcasting due to the near-universality of TV and radio ownership; as this was right before colour TV came to Australia, there never was a separate colour license.
Related television financing systems:
United States (PBS)
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was established by the federal government in 1967 to oversee public broadcasting. In 1970, it established PBS
as replacements for National Educational Television (NET) and National Educational Radio Network (NERN) respectively. The funding for both comes through donations from corporations, charitable foundations and "Viewers Like You
". Individual programs are funded via underwriting spots (the sponsor provides funding in exchange for a mention at the end of the show), while stations themselves are funded via the infamous "pledge drives
", which is where most of the individual viewer contributions come from.