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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 09:24 GMT
TV licence fees around the world
By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The UK is not the only country which has a TV licence fee - about two-thirds of European countries have one, or use an indirect charge to fund their public TV stations.

A British TV licence
A licence currently costs 131.50 per household each year in the UK

And according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, half of countries in Africa and Asia also fund public broadcasting in this way.

As the UK government sets the level of the BBC's licence fee, here is how it compares with other countries around the world.


The Republic of Ireland operates a similar system to that of the UK, with a TV licence costing 158 euros (106) per year. People who do not purchase a licence can be prosecuted and fined more than 1000 euros (670).

The total sum generated is given to RTE but is only sufficient to cover half of the cost of providing its television, radio and online services.

So, the broadcaster is allowed to seek the other half of its budget as income from advertisers.

Almost half of the revenue is spent on mainstream TV network RTE one.

But there are areas of the company's business which do not receive any public funding, most notably its commercial music radio station, RTE 2fm.


Licence fees around the world

The licence fee itself was abolished in the Netherlands in 2000 because it was costing too much money - about 27m (18m) euros that year - to collect.

Now, people pay for public TV and radio "indirectly" through their income tax.

Broadcasters receive about 500m (335m) euros in this way each year, a spokesman for the Dutch culture department confirmed.

However, broadcasters also generate revenue from advertising, and are allowed to transmit commercials between programmes.

In addition to public television, the Netherlands has one of the highest penetrations of cable services in the world, with about 95% of all households connected to a cable provider.

Subscribers pay an additional fee, usually between seven and 14 euros (4.70 to 9.40) per month, for the extra channels offered to them.

The range of services varies from region to region, with channel line-ups agreed by committees in about 60 different areas of the country.


The law was changed in Pakistan three years ago to enable a licence fee to be collected through utility bills.

Approximately 14m households each pay Rs300 (2.50) per year, taken in monthly instalments by their electricity provider.

The money funds the Pakistan Television Corporation (known as PTV), and is taken regardless of whether a homeowner actually possesses a TV.

PTV's national channels offer entertainment, news and films, and it has regional output in different languages.

The tactic of using electricity bills to collect licence fees is also employed in other countries, including Greece, Macedonia and Mauritius.


The TV licence in Ghana costs 3,000 cedis (17p) per year in a country where there are about five times as many radios as television sets.

And while about 14m people have access to radio broadcasts, the potential TV audience only reaches approximately 11m, figures from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) suggest.

"Although it is called a TV licence, the money goes to the state broadcaster and it covers radio as well," Yaw Owusu Addo, the acting director-general, told the BBC News website.

The company operates 11 radio stations, two shortwave radio networks and one TV channel.


A "receiving fee" is collected from every home in Japan with a TV set to guarantee "the financial independence" of public broadcaster NHK.

There are various payment schemes, with discounts to those who pay the annual amount in full in advance, or who sign up through direct debits to their bank account or credit cards.

But viewers with terrestrial channels pay between Y14,910 (64.27) and Y16,740 (72.16) per year.

And there is an additional fee for anybody owning a satellite dish, increasing the total for those households to between Y25,520 (110) and Y28,080 (121).

A rise in the number of people refusing to pay the licence fee in Japan in recent years has been attributed to decreasing public confidence in NHK following a series of corporate scandals.

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