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Swedish computer, tablet, and smartphone owners may have to pay a 'live TV' tax

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Swedish flag (Shutterstock)
Swedish flag (Shutterstock)

Sweden has announced plans to add a "live TV tax" to computers, smartphones and tablets to help keep up with streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go, says a report from The Wall Street Journal. As it stands now, Swedish citizens must pay a monthly tax for commercial-free broadcast programming on TV and radio, but now users who might have ditched their TV to access this content over the internet will no longer be exempt from that tax. For starters, the government plans to collect taxes specifically from tablets or computers, as there are few households that use only a smartphone to stream TV content, but those devices would be legally taxable, as well. Fortunately for Swedish citizens, the tax isn't per-device — it's per household, and the government says that nine out of ten households already pay a TV licensing fee, so most won't even notice this change. It's not an altogether unexpected move — Denmark already changes a similar fee against internet-connected devices — but it's just the latest evidence that the definition of "watching TV" has expanded a great deal from what it meant just a few years ago.