Billag TV and Radio TAX

Hi Guys,

Does any of you know about this “mandatory” TAX?
Some days ago a received a letter from Billag, the private company responsible for the money collection of the TV and Radio Tax.

It seems that you’re obligated to pay this tax if for any reason you:
Own a Radio, a car with a radio, a TV, a PC, Smartphone, Tablet, internet connection or any other medium that could “potentially be used to listen or watch local radio or television”.

Com’on! are they kidding?(!) WTF!
I don’t listen to the radio, nor watch local television and I’m obligated to pay? why?? “Because potentially I could use it?”

What’s your situation? do you pay this absurd tax?
Is there a legal way to avoid it?


It’s law. Same as taxes, it’s not there for you to reason with. Changing it is a matter of politics. Ignoring it will potentially get you a 5000 Fr fine + court costs.

Radio part is practically unavoidable - owning any device with internet access, a smartphone or a car with radio gets you on the hook. The TV part you can skip, to qualify for it you need a physical TV (or a paid internet account which is uncheckable), and they don’t drive with RF surveilance vans to catch “Schwarzsehers” anymore. But the law is changing, everyone will be paying it soon unconditionally


From Billag faq web page:
"I have internet access. Do I need to register for radio and television reception?
You must register for radio reception if your computer, tablet or mobile phone can be used to listen to the radio.

If you can watch television on your computer, tablet or mobile phone, you must register for television reception if you have an account (even if it’s for free) with an internet television (IP-TV) provider."

No chance to skip it…

1 Like

The argument is that they need money to produce “quality” TV and keep the infrastructure operating. Particularly news, sport, political discussion and consumers protection (like kassensturz). You indirectly profit from this (or so they say) because of journalism effect (checking on politician), political discussion, national identity (maintaining 4 languages, transmitting traditional stuff the private TV wouldn’t transmit and so on).

I don’t watch TV anymore, but I recognize some of these point and I stopped getting angry over it a long time ago. Is going to change anyway.

I have not been paying Billag for a long time. Neither have I been watching TV or listening to radio. I have a TV though, for XBOX and YouTube and Netflix etc. This means I should have been paying. Billag has been sending me these annoying pamphlets. I think also a few times they have been knocking at my door at weird hours (I know because right after that I would find their pamphlet in my mailbox), but I never opened. Finally I decided to pay, because I have a nice life here in Switzerland, and I am a guest, so I would not like to be kicked out for some stupid reason.

I know you could say, that it’s the law, and it’s equal for everybody. But there are good laws and bad laws, and bad laws have to be fought. Billag is such a costly and ridiculous way to collect money. If it doesn’t matter if you watch it or not, then just include it in regular taxes, make it a per capita tax, and stop sending stupid pamphlets.

1 Like

I was sooo pissed when the new law was passed that now every household has to pay it no matter how many TVs and stuff you own (it won by like <5000 votes), not sure if it was implemented jet.

If the SRF would do any worthwhile content I would be half OK with paying for it but they make nothing interesting (except maybe news but they are legally required to)

1 Like

I hadn’t heard about the new law, but I’m ok with it. Basically everyone had to pay already the moment you had an internet connection, now at least it’ll be a little bit less. I also don’t listen to the radio or watch Swiss TV, but I’ve decided to see it as just another unavoidable tax.

One can argue that it is in the national interest to have national tv and radio. Doesn’t matter if you watch it or not. There are many public services which are paid from taxes, but you individually are profiting from some of them more than from others.

With Billag there are many absurds. Like, two singles living in two separate flats will pay twice the price of a couple living together - where is the reason behind this? You have TV but you don’t watch Swiss channels? Whatever, pay!

It’ll be more! You only have to pay radio now if you have internet, later you’ll pay for the full package

I’m paying for TV and radio already. When I signed up the web page basically said that if you had an internet connection you could watch TV and listen to the radio, so you had to pay for both.

1 Like

TV part is only to be paid when you have a physical TV or an internet television account. The latter is not a given and practically impossible to verify in any case due to privacy reasons

Yeah, rather than relying on a FAQ of a company that makes money on collecting the tax, I would look into the actual regulations.

BTW how do you verify a physical TV? Can Billag get a warrant to search your home?

1 Like

They used to drive around spying on people watching TV in the evenings, not anymore AFAIK and with the change of law and the availability of free non taxable TV content from internet (like youtube) it makes little sense anymore anyway

When I first moved to Geneva (and before I had a TV or payed Billag), a guy knocked on my door one evening and (I think) tried to sell me a TV remote. It was super weird. I still don’t know if it was a Billag employee trying to find out if I had a TV, or a guy trying to figure out if he could rob the house.

I have heard that if you declare you don’t have a TV, they try to go to your house to install a bolt of some sort over the antenna plug so you can’t plug anything in, but that’s probably the kind of rumors they would spread to get us to pay. :laughing:

1 Like

The bolt is unrelated to billag - it’s from cablecom if you don’t want to pay their 30-40 Fr/month cable connection fee

Haha, yeah I called my landlord (company, not private), that I do not want that base service from UPC. He told me that in this case somebody will come to “plombieren” the UPC antenna. Nobody came. And my Nebenkosten went down.

Hi Guys,

Thanks for your feedback, I do agree it’s a rip-off
Once I have more time I will read the law in order to see if there is a gray zone or a way to avoid this stupid TAX.

I mean it’s frustrating that in 2017 in the on-demand economy you have to pay for content you never use.
Even indirect benefits, come on it’s well known that the public TV and Radio jobs (at any level) have much better conditions and benefits than any other industry and part of that is paid by the tax.

Any way… I know there is no solution, I just needed a place to through out my anger :slight_smile:

1 Like

In other countries they’d just take this propaganda money out of your much bigger taxes. You wouldn’t even know and so wouldn’t complain. Is that really a better system?

1 Like

There is no much difference between the two. In the end in both cases you’re forced to pay (unless you don’t have Internet, car, TV or radio). But in Billag case, the whole registration is just pain in the butt, especially for expats who are usually not aware of the obligation. In the end it is just tax, but additionally they put obligation of registration on you.

On ethical ground, in both cases they take your money - under threat of closing you in a cage if you resist long enough - to produce stuff that you might not like (I don’t like Swiss TV/radio) or you might even hate and consider harmful to human civilization (that’s what I think about Polish state TV).

1 Like

Well I think the registration and stuff is going away since everyone has to pay now. But knowing the Swiss system it is probably going to take a while till it is implemented.

I think the should have made a distinction between the legally required part (News and stuff) and the stuff they just do (game-shows, reality-TV and sending people to live like in the medieval times). I am perfectly OK with paying my share for the required part but really do not want to pay for the rest untill the make any good content.

1 Like