… we’re going to have to pay. In Sweden the tax that pays for public television is collected separately from other taxes, to prevent political influence on the content of programming. Isn’t that great? The only problem, of course, is that it’s real hard to get people to pay it. In fact, when the current right-wing-by-Swedish-standards government was elected in 2006, the person initially appointed to the post of culture minister was found not to have paid her TV tax in 16 years. The scandal made lots of other people feel guilty about not paying their TV tax and Sweden’s Television had a good year.
I’m not a big TV watcher. I hate most of the crap that is put on TV and I hate being advertised to even more. Although I’ve occasionally lived in residences with TVs since leaving home for college, I’ve used the TV mostly for watching movies, except for 1999-2000, when my housemate Klaas and I had a tradition of watching The Simpsons every day. Kostia has similar feelings about television, and although we’ve spent countless hours staring at our computer screens watching movies, we didn’t feel any need to get a TV.
Since coming to Sweden, though, I’ve been agitating for one. Swedish public television is really high-quality, and I thought it would be a good way to improve my Swedish passively. But it was only when the monitor on Kostia’s old laptop died that he started to consider my point of view. He’s got a new laptop and we’ve been using the old one as a sort of media center, with a big old-fashioned monitor borrowed from Dima as a screen. So we needed a new screen, and I thought if we were getting a new screen we could get one with a TV tuner while we were at it.
Then it turns out our friend Olga was trying to sell a TV. So we got a nice TV at a reasonable price, and we’ve already wasted several hours in front of it. We can get basic cable free through the housing rental company, but for now we’ve decided to resist getting the box since there’s plenty to distract us on the four public channels we get already.
The TV taxman came to our door in the spring and Kostia was able to tell him honestly that we didn’t have a TV and were therefore exempt from the tax. But I guess next time we’ll have to pay. Which I don’t have a problem with, because Swedish TV is good.