High Court in Sweden: Computer ≠ TV.

I have written a fair amount, some would say too many, posts (in Swedish) on the license fee for public service broadcasting ("PubSerBroad") here in Sweden. There is much to be said about that. As a general subject, PubSerBroad it is very big. Much bigger than I ever thought about before. I grew up with, as I guess every European has done, with PubSerBroad. When I was younger, they had monopoly on TV and radio. When I was a child, there was one TV channel and three radio channels. Radio, one could recieve foreign stations of course. It was just something most people just took for granted. I surely did. I have not watched much TV since my teens in the 1970s. I have listened to a lot of radio, though I kind of gave up on that recently, too. What has really gotten me to think about it, and write about it, is the authorities recent aggressive collection of "TV-license" (as is the colloquial term for it) from people who does not have a TV. They have with many half-truths and un-truths pictured themselves as having the right to do that. They have defined a computer with Internet connection as being a "TV reciever", because they put out their products on their web sites. That is of course nonsense. Since it is conciously claimed as truth, in order to gather more money from households, it is a lie. They have also included tablets and mobile phones in that "definition".

I have complained to administrative courts. That does not involve any fees, nor require the help of lawyers, nor any personal presence. At least not for a comparatively small, as well as general, problem such as the TV-license. There are also quite a few persons, afaik, that have made the formal complaints. Some I had read, and they had brought slightly different angles than mine. I am not the lone whiner in this. It has been an interesting and educating experience for me, as the courts (I tried two) has parroted what the collection agency, Radiotjänst, has claimed. They seem not to have put much effort into reading the complaints. I recently got the last reply, which said that they would not bring it up in court. What remained for me was to have complained to the highest instance, The Supreme Administrative Court. Somehow, that sounds more scary in English than in Swedish. I was frankly not that surprised I never got my complaints through in the "lower" courts, and I felt that trying to bring it to the highest instance would just be a waste of time and energy. The image of Don Quixote was not far away 😉 Furthermore, I had read that at least one person had in fact complained to the Supreme Administrative Court.

I have not given it much thought the past few weeks, but now the Supreme Administrative Court has decided: There is no base in the laws to the claim that a (ie. every) internet connected computer is a TV reciever. That is good news. That is was I, and thousands of others, have been claiming all along. I am glad that the Court read the law. What is sad is that Radiotjänst, and the two other administrative courts did not read the law. And frankly, did not read reality. A computer with Internet connection is not a TV reciever. It is not a reciever in the sense a TV is. It is just not true. I am happy truth has won, but that it has taken so much time and energy to arrive at THE OBVIOUS, is rather disturbing. Or laughable. My (naive?) respect for the justice system has weakened considerably after the "pirate" cases, and this whole thing does not strengthen my belief in that everybody is following good adminstrative practice.

One thing that has annoyed me to no end about the present PubSerBroad as a whole is the blatant dishonesty of some of its core claims. I am not going into those here. Maybe my annoyance is proportional to my previous respect for PubSerBroad.