In certain countries (mostly Europe) TV licenses are used instead of taxes to fund the local public TV and radio channels.

What's the benefit of using this model if most of the population has a TV anyway? Wouldn't it be more efficient to use direct financing from the budget?

I've seen arguments saying that it makes public TV more independent, but if the government wants to shut down public TV (like with PBS in America) it can always cancel the law requiring TV fees from citizens. So I don't see how it could make public TV resistant to political interventions.

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    @user4012 didn't the Republican government cut down the PBS budget? Apr 26 '17 at 16:03
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    If it's an accurate and true statement that might, to the general user, reflect negatively upon conservative ideology, then it's even more important to down-vote for it, by some users' thinking. Apr 26 '17 at 16:08
  • @JonathanReez - do you seriously not see the difference between " wants to shut down public TV" and "wants to not make people pay for TV they strongly disagree with"?
    – user4012
    Apr 26 '17 at 20:48
  • @JonathanReez - i'm unsure how the update addresses my point. you still imply " the government wants to shut down public TV" without any evidence (and contrary to actual facts). There were absolutely zero moves made to shut down PBS. Merely to stop giving it tax money (which isn't a majority of its funding in the first place, so you can't even claim it was an unintended side effect, never mind an insinuation it was an intended desired outcome).
    – user4012
    Apr 27 '17 at 1:06
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    @user4012 if it's not government funded, then it's not public tv. It'd be capitalist tv with an unorthodox business model of having people donate to it. Apr 28 '17 at 23:14

I live in the UK and never watch TV. I don't even have a TV. Why should I pay for it?

You're right that paying it through taxes is more efficient, since this means you won't have to spend any money on enforcement, but on the flipside all taxpayers will have to pay for it. When I lived in the Netherlands I was always paying for the public television through my taxes, even though I never used it, which could be considered somewhat unfair.

It's the same with many other taxes; for example most people own a car, but some don't, so only car-owners actually pay tax (even though it would be more efficient to tax it through the general funds).

  • Good answer, but you may want to expand on general differences between consumption tax and income tax
    – user4012
    Apr 26 '17 at 15:36
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    Why should you pay for it? Because you are a member of society, and there is a greater societal benefit to having it available for anyone who wants or needs to use it that goes beyond your personal individual desires. Or at least I'd guess that's the answer for most government services. Apr 26 '17 at 16:10
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    @PoloHoleSet I am skeptical TV can lead to better citizens, but more importantly that argument rests on TV being a common or important news or information source, which may be true now but might not have been when they made the tax.
    – user9389
    Apr 26 '17 at 17:21
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    Newspapers can lead to better citizens @PoloHoleSet. Should I pay for newspapers in my income tax too?
    – user11249
    Apr 26 '17 at 17:27
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    @notstoreboughtdirt - that's probably because you associate TV with the for-profit pablum that generally gets sent out over US airwaves, and the so-called news that has been deteriorating ever since regulations about ownership and standards went out the window. I'm talking about educational and objective, substantive news shows. That actually was more true when they made the tax, when the airwaves were dominant. Apr 26 '17 at 18:20

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