Should the proposed media fee become a reality, it will mark an end to Finland’s dated television fee system. Moreover, it would render extinct one of Finland’s most disliked occupational groups, the television fee inspectors (ranked number 379 among 381 occupational groups in a 2007 survey), and put an end to an era of intrigue and subterfuge.
You may have received a stern phone call, a note slipped into your mailbox or even a visit from these inspectors who, according to tv-maksu.fi, the official online portal for information related to the TV-fee, “continuously make visits to households, which according to the television fee register have not submitted a television notification.”
The media fee will, however, render the inspections unnecessary, as the fee would become obligatory for everyone regardless of whether they own any equipment that makes it possible to receive and watch transmissions. Thus, the game of hide-and-seek between inspectors and the television sets of citizens will also come to an end. Moreover, hundreds of online message threads full of stories and advice on how to convince an inspector that you do not own a television set will simply dry up.
Meanwhile, the new fee that is to be collected, which principally runs YLE programming, is to be reduced by some 40 euros. Thus, many feel that the title “media fee” is misleading and should be replaced by a more fitting “YLE tax.” It has been proposed that this flat fee should be replaced with a progressive one to better fit the budgets of students, the unemployed and pensioners.
Despite the criticism, the powers that be seem to have their minds set on enforcing the new fee starting 1 January 2011. Thus, some Finns will have no choice but to learn how to scrape by without the additional 15 euros each month. Some may even have to adjust to a new life without paranoia – after all, the most common advice on the internet forums is not to open your door unless you are expecting someone.