Households in France are required pay an annual television licence fee, although there is an exemption for those on a low income.
The contribution à l'audiovisuel public (also known as la redevance) funds the five public television channels in mainland France - France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, and Arte.
The fee is currently €121, a figure that is revised annually. It is collected each November/December with the annual tax demand for the taxe d’habitation, where it is itemised separately.
There are also a number of private television channels and services in France - TF1, Canal+, M6, private channels on TNT (Télévision Numérique Terrestre), as well as local channels, all of which are funded by advertising.
The public channels also have advertising, but it is severely controlled, and between 2000 hours and 0600 hours no advertising at all is permitted on these channels.
Liability to the Licence Fee
Surprisingly, even though you may not own a television, or have a aerial on the roof, you could still be liable for the licence fee.
This is because anyone with a video recorder, DVD player or video projector linked to a screen or monitor for viewing is also liable!
If you only watch television through your computer, then you have no liability, although this could well change in the future. Indeed, as a sign of the way the wind is blowing, next year 'triple play' broadband subscriptions will be subject to 19.6% VAT, up from the current reduced rate of 5.5%.
For the time being, if you consider you are exempt, then to escape payment you need to indicate as such on your French tax return, by ticking the box ‘ORA’ on the first page of the tax return.
Other households exempt from payment of the licence fee are those who are means test exempt from the payment of the taxe d’habitation. This exemption is granted automatically to eligible households based on your French income tax return. Those entitled to this exemption will not actually receive a tax demand (avis d'imposition).
Each household (foyer fiscal) is only liable to pay the licence fee on one property. So even though you may be the owner of more than one property, you do not pay it twice, although tenants of a property you own would be liable.
Non-residents with second homes are as equally liable for the fee as residents.