The government is planning a significant change in the payment of concession fees, which will affect those who use smartphones or tablets to watch television and listen to radio broadcasts. This move comes in response to the requests made by Czech Television and Czech Radio directors Petra Dvořák and René Zavoral to increase the fees. While the number of households and registered radio receivers subject to the price was 3.8 million and 3.5 million, respectively, last year, the proposed changes would expand the range of concession holders to include mobile devices.
Minister of Culture Martin Baxa (ODS) is currently negotiating the proposed changes, but no final decision has been reached yet. The discussions involve a working group of representatives from coalition parties and public media outlets. Czech Radio is requesting a 15 Czech koruna increase in the existing 45 koruna fee, while Czech Television is seeking a boost from the current 135 koruna fee.
Jan Lacina, a member of the working group and a representative of the STAN party, highlights the need to redefine the concept of a television receiver. Under the proposed significant amendment, television receivers would include traditional television sets, phones, and computers. This expansion would result in approximately 600,000 additional households being subject to the concession fee. The fee increase is likely to be implemented from January 1, 2024.
Lacina also suggests that the fee adjustments should reflect the budgets and sizes of the public media outlets. He proposes a higher fee increase for Czech Television than Czech Radio, considering the former’s budget of nearly seven billion Czech korun, compared to the latter’s budget of over two billion Czech korun.
The government is also considering the possibility of automatic fee increases in the future. However, consensus on this matter has not been reached within the coalition. Lacina supports fee adjustments based on inflation and is working on a mechanism requiring the Chamber of Deputies to revisit the issue over time.
While the ANO movement suggests exempting senior citizens from the list of fee payers due to increased expenses resulting from the government handling of inflation, Lacina disagrees. He points out that the fee amounts, 135 korun for television and 45 korun for radio, are manageable for households and emphasizes the negative impact of such exemptions on public media, as observed in Poland.
The fee increase has garnered support from Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka, who believes it is necessary to maintain the quality of news and public media. However, the issue remains divisive, and ANO’s involvement in the fee negotiations was limited. The final decision on fee adjustments and potential exemptions is expected to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies.