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Computer Licenses For The Danish

According to “Mr P” (thanks), this article in Danish states that computer owners in Denmark will have to purchase a general media license to operate their machines. 1075 kroner every six months. That’s £100 or US$185.

Mr P says: “The reason, they claim, is that so many people watch TV and listen to radio through their computers, that the TV channels which benefit from said licence money apparently lose a lot of money. So they punish all the computer users, and probably some mobile phone users as well.”

Obviously, anyone finding or providing salient translation is welcomed to drop a note in comments.

ADDITIONAL from Mr P: “What the Danish are implementing is in fact a general media licence… In other words, where they ruled that anyone with a TV had to pay the licence before, it’s going to be expanded to -anything- you can potentially watch TV on, including computers and mobile phones. So basically, if one’s already paying for your TV set, then you’re okay, but those who don’t have TV sets are also going to be struck by this expansion. They also wanted to make paying the licence something everyone did until they actively reported that they had nothing they could watch TV on, but thankfully, that one didn’t get through.”

Published in researchmaterial


  1. Dominic Gwinn Dominic Gwinn

    How else are you supposed to support an industry that is becoming archaic and substandard? Without government support for the business and services that no body uses or wants anymore, capitalism could fail!


  2. Tim Tim

    the bbc has already floated the idea to parliament of doing the same here.

    last i heard, it wasn’t gaining too much support, with even aunty not thinking they’d be able to pull it off.

    hope they don’t

  3. Perradox Perradox

    At last!
    A reason for me not wanting to move there, and btw Nextwave is so funny it could even make dead cavemen laugh.

  4. I fear for Cory Doctorow. He will rant and have so much he might die.

    Have you seen this?

  5. Jasper Jasper

    Er, what about PCs with dialup or no internet access? How… retarded.

    Are there death squads that go door to door checking for hidden TVs in the basement walls, then? What an odd license in the first place. How on earth do they enforce the television one?

  6. Here you start paying tv tax when you get married. What, that don’t make sense to you?

  7. Simon Simon

    “How on earth do they enforce the television one?”

    They try to shame you into paying, believe it or not. They have these retarded-ass campaigns once in a while, where, for example, a couple of guys are drinking in a pub. Then when it’s this one guys turn to get a round in he mumbles something about having to get up early the next day and leaves without paying. Freeze frame, and then some smug bastard in a suit comes on screen telling the audience that if you’re not paying your licensing fees then you’re nothing but a thief and a hypocrite, just like that guy.

    They also have a letter campaign directed at people who aren’t registered as color-tv owners, reminding you that it’s a crime to watch tv if you aren’t paying their fees. The letter is phrased in a VERY understanding manner, because NATURALLY no one would ever DREAM of doing something so dastardly as stealing tv. You probably just forgot, right? Or maybe you didn’t know you had to register. Maybe you just moved. At any rate, you’ve got two weeks to register. And if you haven’t done so after the two weeks have gone by, then… …then nothing, really. They haven’t got any legal way of doing a damn thing about it, but by God, you still gosh darned better pay. Or else!

    The campaigns manage to be cajoling, ridiculous and antagonistic all at once. Be funny if it weren’t so sad. And annoying. Mostly annoying, really.

  8. Daniel Daniel

    In Sweden they send these sort of threatening ads about it
    where they tell you which cities they’re scanning next.

    On the other hand, the danish government is kind of weird
    compared to other nordic countries since it’s not semi-socialist like Sweden and Norway is.

  9. Adrian Adrian

    Does this license at least get you some kind of protection from being sued for downloading TV shows?

  10. theblackscorpio theblackscorpio

    A+, Adrian ;)

  11. theblackscorpio theblackscorpio

    Jasper, they actually do show up from time to time, but I haven’t heard about X-ray gadgets to see through walls yet. It’s similar in Germany.

  12. The_Pete The_Pete

    “In Sweden they send these sort of threatening ads about it
    where they tell you which cities they’re scanning next.”

    That’s great. Just hide the TV’s until the next ad. :/

    Honestly, this is nothing short of extortion. First, they overcharged for cable then they added a “license”. Next, they overcharged for slow internet connections and now they are asking for a “license”. Why don’t they slap on an extra fee when buying a computer and call it day?

    So how does this apply for WiFi users again?

  13. Might be that the Danish government isn’t semi-socialist, but the state is just as semi-socialist as the Swedish and the Norwegian states.

    Living in Denmark I have to say that I think the TV licence (and radio licence if you don’t have a tv but have a radio) is a good idea. The new media licence, that will affect computers and mobile phones, is a logic development of the tv/radio licence.
    The main recipient of the licence money is DR – Denmarks Radio (Danish equivalent of BBC) which for the moment runs two add free tv channels (and some more on the way) and four add free national radio stations and some regional ones as well. It also has loads of stuff on the net. DR has the only decent news coverage on tv/radio.
    I think its worth paying for.
    And yes, I’m a semi-socialist like most other Danes :-)

  14. Paul Paul

    One argument for a TV licence fee in the UK at least is that it subsidises all those fantastic BBC programmes (well…and the prole pacification device that is Eastenders), which you can watch without being interrupted every 10 minutes by some carefully crafted marketing atrocity trying to convince your brain to make you buy things.

    Unfortunately, as far as I’ve seen, the BBC is the only TV channel (partially) bankrolled by a licence fee that’s worth the money.

  15. Christian O. Christian O.

    Oh fuck me. I’m telling you this is going to hit university students hard, especially since they just recently fucked with our income again.

  16. The money from the licenses go to state-financed content providers making some pretty amazing (about the same quality as much coming from the BBC) tv, radio and internet content in Danish which is provided without advertising. It doesn’t make much sense financially to create high quality content in Danish, a language only spoken by 5-6 million people. As you can probably tell I think this is good.

    What’s bad about this is the way they collect the money because a) some people don’t pay, making the rest of us pay for them and b) the poor pay as much as the rich (and DKK 2,000 — approximately $345 — is quite a lot of money for a student or a single parent).

    Oh, and by the way, how many people own a computer but no tv, radio or internet connection? I don’t see this as a big problem.

  17. Jasper Jasper

    So Danish television doesn’t have advertising? If I watched TV, I could be talked into paying a license to watch if there were no commercials, ever. Otherwise, they’re getting you coming AND going.

    On the other hand, I don’t fucking WATCH television. I don’t have time for it. My computer COULD run TV shows if I was to download ’em, but see previous statement. Asking people who don’t watch TV to pay a license fee just to own equipment which is not intended for watching television is total horseshit. I mean, mobile phones? What the christ?

    Got a piece of PVC piping and some hair-spray? Let’s see that firearms license. Got a lawn mower? Where’s the driver’s license? Bought apples recently? Those could be turned into alcohol, how old are you again? You’re not eating them while driving the lawn mower, are you?

    The_Pete, two things to sour your day further: they’re not talking about licensing your internet connection, they’re talking about licensing every computer in the country, internet connection or not; also, they can’t just slap an extra fee on at purchase, because this license fee is recurring, every six months.

  18. Paul Paul

    Can you opt out of having access to this “high quality” content and then not pay the fee?

    How do they determine what a computer that the fee is charged for is? If I build a computer, certainly, that’s valid. Then if I buy replacement parts for some of it, and set the remainder in a box, I still have one. Then I get a new motherboard, and the remainder happens to be enough for a workstation. No HD, but it does allow my girlfriend to surf the net while she’s here, even if I need to be working on something. Is that a second computer? Or just a complicated peripheral for the first?
    What about my linksys router? For all practical purposes it’s a computer. I imagine if I wanted to I could run a web browser on it. Or my Xbox. Or even my iPod. All of those could access an internet connection. Does it matter what I’m using them for, or merely that I’m capable?

    It’s a pretty difficult line to draw.

  19. Simon Simon

    “So Danish television doesn’t have advertising?”

    Not DR (Danmarks Radio), no, which receives the lion’s share of the revenue. They only advertise their own upcoming programs.

    Unlike Mikkel I know plenty of people (all students) who don’t own a tv, but do own a computer. But I hardly think they’re gonna sign up just because of this new legislation. DR is just as awful content-wise as any other tv-station. Even worse, in my opinion, because they have this holier than thou attitude when in fact their programs are just as shitty as any other station’s. Difference is, they’re Danish. Too many people in this country seem to think that Danish products are inherently superior to everything else by virtue of being Danish. They’re wrong. DR is just pandering to the lowest common denominator.

    You can almost tell I don’t like them, can’t you?

  20. Simon Simon

    “Can you opt out of having access to this “high quality” content and then not pay the fee?”

    Nope. If you own a tv set you have to pay. There’s a difference between a black-and-white and a color license, though.

    Thing is, they have no legal way of accessing your home to see if you own a set, so all the money is collected on good faith. If they come calling (as they’re wont to do) you can, in theory, tell them to bugger off and there’s nothing they can do about it.

  21. That makes the Net Neutrality debate going on in the USA look small in comparison.

  22. No, Danish television doesn’t have advertising. Well, kind of.

    The license money is divided between two companies. One, Danmarks Radio, is the Danish equivalent of the BBC. It is the old government broadcasting monopoly that has since turned into a modern media company. Danmarks Radio provides two television channels, four (or is it more? I forget) radio channels, a major website with news, debate, games and much more, a long list of high quality podcasts plus mobile services, a web tv station and probably more I don’t remember right now. All totally free of advertising.

    The second company, TV2, was originally created to break Danmarks Radio’s monopoly on the media market back in 1981 (early eighties anyway). TV2 provides three regular television channels, a film channel and soon also a news channel plus mobile services and a very popular website with news, discussion, a life style section, sports, you name it. There is no advertising on TV2’s website either, and ads on the tv channels are not inserted into the shows but instead in little blocks between shows.

    So you actually get quite a lot for your money. And remember this is not something you suddenly have to pay just because you own a computer. There is no extra fee if you already owned a tv. The only people who suddenly have to pay are the people who own computers but no tv or radio — not very many people, I suspect.

    And addressing “I don’t fucking WATCH television”: I don’t watch television either. I do surf the web, including the two websites I just mentioned and listen to some of the podcasts, though. And I also like being able to watch things such as the Superbowl which was broadcast on TV2 (I chose the Superbowl as an example because football is not very popular here in Denmark so TV2 probably loses quite a lot of money when they decide to buy something like that but they do it anyway because they consider it public service). Also, I’m happy the two companies exist, if only because they produce quite high quality news which would arguably not otherwise get produced, leading to a general high level of awareness of political issues in the population.

  23. thekamisama: That makes the Net Neutrality debate going on in the USA look small in comparison.

    No it doesn’t. This is a completely different issue. A tiered internet would arguably limit small content providers (such as podcasters, bloggers, etc.) in their ability to reach the broad public. This is about people who don’t own televisions or radios but do own computers (i.e. very few people) paying the same amount everyone else do for access to some of the same content.

  24. Simon Simon

    I’ve had a crack at translating the article. I’ve done my best, but you people aren’t paying me, so it’s a bit of a rush job:

    In the future it will cost more than 2,000 DKR annually to own a computer with internet access. This is one of the results of the media settlement.

    More and more Danes watch TV on their computers. Which is why it will now be included in the licensing agreement.

    That is the gist of the media settlement that wide majority in Parliament agreed upon this afternoon.

    Licensing fees to rise:
    The new media license covers all appliances capable of receiving picture programs and services, including computers and certain cellular phones, according the settlement.

    The media license will be on a level comparable to the current color-TV license, and in the period from 2007-2010 it will follow the general price and wage increase.

    Accordingly, it will cost an estimated 1,075 DKR biannually in 2007 and 1,130 DKR biannually in 2010.

    In return, every license-requiring appliance in the domicile is then included.

    Economically struggling senior citizens as well as the blind and the sight-impaired will still have the option of receiving a reduction in or exemption from the fee.

    Victory for Plummer:
    The new media license is a victory for Danmarks Radio.

    The General Manager of the station, Kenneth Plummer, has argued hotly for an expansion of the license and has previously said, that DR stands to lose 30 million DKR in 2006, because roughly 15,000 Danes watch TV on their computers, thusly avoiding the licensing fees.

    No to Annulment:
    On the other hand, DR failed to achieve their desire to make viewers actively annul their license. As always, you still have to actively register yourself in the future in order to pay the licensing fee.

    The question has been one of the deciding snags in the negotiations – both the Social Democrats, the Radicals and the Minister of Culture, Brian Mikkelsen (the Conservative People’s Party) have desired an annulment model, wherein every household automatically pay the fee, unless they actively annul their license.

    But opposition from several prominent Venstre-politicans [note: the right wing party currently in government with the Conservatives] has led to the suggestion being aborted.

    With the settlement it is also established that DR must create a digitally combined Children’s-and-History channel, as well as broadcast news in languages commonly spoken by immigrants and refugees.

  25. […] Further to this, reader Simon did a quick translation of the original article: I’ve had a crack at translating the article. I’ve done my best, but you people aren’t paying me, so it’s a bit of a rush job: […]

  26. We have that shit here in Sweden too, but it only applies to owning a TV so far. Or anything capable of receiving TV signals, to be precise.

    A few years back they wanted it to apply to internet access as well, but the government pretty much said “Hahahaha. No.” and then slapped them across the face.

    Now that we’re switching to digital TV they can see exactly who is actually watching the state television, but I bet they’ll stick to the old model of “Own a TV? Fess up!” anyway.

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