Did you know that you’re required to pay monthly TV and radio license fees in the Czech Republic if you own a TV or radio?
The fees go towards funding Czech Television (Česká televize) and Czech Radio (Český rozhlas), the country’s public broadcasting services on TV and radio, respectively, which both run multiple stations and channels.
To preserve their independence, almost all of the funding for Czech Television and Czech Radio comes from the license fees, which apply not only to citizens of the Czech Republic but any household in the country with devices capable of receiving them.
According to Czech Radio Director René Zavoral, the license fees account for 95% of Czech Radio’s total budget.
During a seminar last week about public broadcasting in the Czech Republic, Zavoral also urged that the fees should be increased. His sentiments were echoed by Czech Television director Petr Dvořák.
Since 2008, the monthly license fee for Czech Radio has been 45 CZK. For Czech Television, it is 135 CZK. The fees haven’t changed for the past decade.
But Zavoral would like to see an increase of 5 CZK per month to the Radio budget, bringing it to 50 CZK. That seems like a small amount, but it would add up to an additional 225 million CZK per year to Czech Radio’s overall budget.
For many, the license fees may seem like an unusual way to collect funds for public broadcasting; in some countries, the services are entirely donation-based, while in others it is allocated from the total state budget.
For Czech Television and Radio, however, the current method of funding is ideal – and guarantees independence from political influence, which could not be guaranteed if the funding came from the state.
The law stipulates that any household with at least one device capable of receiving Czech Television or Radio is obliged to pay the license fees; that doesn’t necessarily mean TVs and radios, but could also be interpreted to extend to computers and mobile phones. It also extends to companies and holders of trade licenses.
But it’s also a difficult law to enforce. If you own a home in the Czech Republic, you may have been informed by Czech Television or Radio of your obligation to pay the fees; some expats, however, have reported success in receiving exemption status after claiming that they do not watch Czech TV or listen to Czech Radio.