Budget 2011: TV and radio licence fees scrapped in Singapore

February 18th, 2011 | by Alfred Siew

The much-derided licence fees that Singapore residents have to pay for simply owning a TV or radio have been finally scrapped, as part of an election-friendly Budget unveiled today by the government here in Parliament.

Until now, home owners paid S$110 a year for a TV licence while car owners paid S$27 a year for tuning in to FM radio on the go. With this change, users would save about S$120 million in such fees a year, revealed Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam today.

He told Parliament that the licence fees were losing their relevance. Many users now watch TV and listen to radio on the Internet, bypassing the traditional channels, he also pointed out.

The licence fees had been justified in the past as necessary to fund public broadcasting programmes made by free-to-air broadcaster Mediacorp as well as other TV programmes supported by the Media Development Authority. The government regulator collected S$132.5 million of licence fees in 2009.

However, over the years, many users have asked if public funds should be used to prop up programmes made by Mediacorp, a private company. They have also questioned if the amount collected was more than what was needed to fund public programmes.

It seems the authorities have finally got the point. Under the new measures, those who have already paid up their licence fees would get a refund from the government by April this year. More details are available here.

Budget 2011 for the Singapore government is being closely watched as it is expected to include incentives meant to sweeten the ground for an election this year. Some of these include cash grants for small and medium enterprises and help for lower-income families to own public housing.

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