The main commercial players state that the increased TV fee together with the extension of its payment to include all users of ČT services instead of only those having a TV set would bring imbalance in the market.

An increase in funding for Czech Television (ČT) through an increase in the television licence fee and other legislative changes that would redefine the television licence fee payer would, in the opinion of the largest commercial television groups, Nova and Prima, bring imbalance to the domestic television market. This was stated by TV Nova CEO, Daniel Grunt, and TV Prima CEO, Marek Singer, at Wednesday’s Digimedia 2023 conference.

The increase in the TV fee could be regulated by the “major media amendment”. However, it is questionable whether there will be political support for a fee increase. “We will see whether the opposition will block the law,” said Petr Dvořák, Czech Television’s CEO, at the conference. He told the participants that Czech Television’s estimates show that about 300,000 to 350,000 households do not pay the TV fee today, as they have stated in an affidavit that they do not own a TV set and thus do not use ČT services. If it were possible to change the definition of the licence fee payer to households that do not own a TV set but receive ČT services via digital platforms such as PCs or mobile phones, this would bring CZK 420 million per year to ČT’s budget.

Petr Dvořák described the proposal by ČT’s newly elected CEO, Jan Souček, that the fees should be paid by every household using electricity as a proposal made “long after the deadline”. If negotiations on the text of the amendment were to return to that point, the whole process would be significantly slowed down and the amendment would not be adopted until sometime around 2028, he said. On the other hand, he described the discussions on a new definition of a payer as advanced. It would basically build on the current definition and newly include users of ČT services on devices other than a TV set.

CEO of TV Nova, Daniel Grunt, said that a possible increase of the ČT fee to CZK 180 [the officially proposed sum is CZK 150, Ed.] from the current CZK 135 would bring Czech Television CZK 2 billion more together with the legislative redefinition of the fee payer. “This will create an uneven playing field for commercial players. ČT would have more in total than the commercial revenues of all commercial TV companies,” he said, adding that the public service function should be clearly defined.

Marek Singer, CEO of Prima Group, has also opposed the increase in TV fees. “Moreover, this does not mean that the CZK 2 billion increase will bring more new quality series and programmes. We are already competing for actors and writers and such an increase will only raise inflation on the market,” he added. At the same time, he believes that ČT would have to redefine the payer prospectively. And extending the definition to include users of ČT services on digital platforms would substantially solve the issue of ČT’s austerity scheme, he said. He therefore considers such a change “the least evil”, as he later clarified to

Czech Television and Czech Radio propose to increase the fee by CZK 15, i.e. to CZK 150 for ČT and CZK 60 for ČRo. As already mentioned, under the amendment to the Act on Television and Radio Fees, the fee should no longer be paid per TV or radio set, but the payer should be the one who uses the public service, i.e. including users of various internet platforms. At the same time, the principle of payment per household should be maintained.

According to Dvořák, the new definition of licence fee payers would mean an increase in the number of paying entities by 300,000 to 350,000. Together with the fee increase and the new method of calculating payment for companies, this would bring almost CZK 2 billion a year for ČT, while if the fee were increased by CZK 45, the annual benefit would be CZK 3.5 billion.