In Nigeria as is most countries in the world, people are mandated to pay TV/Radio Licensing as a form of tax. In Nigeria, that tax is an exclusive revenue of the Local Governments Councils. The idea basically is that you pay tax for owning a TV regardless of whether you watch it nor not. So what about computers? Are they Television Sets?
Over the last decade personal computers have seen a massive increase in its usability and efficiency. From using spreadsheets and word processors to analyze and perform everyday transaction to using it to pay for groceries. Personal Computers and more recently Tablet Computers are also very useful for watching movies, musicals and even streaming live events such as the world cup. One won’t be too out of line to suggest computers/tablets are actually more ubiquitous than TV’s in terms of quantity around the world. Even cable TV’s can be watched on computers and on phones too. The DSTV drifta for example can be connected to your laptop and boom, you are suddenly watching CNN, Super Sport etc, just like you would your TV’s. And then TV’s, well they too can be used as computers screen making both more or less compatible and exchangeable.
So if Computer screens can basically do the same thing TV screens do, can they now be taxed?? Should government place a levy on it like they are doing with TV’s and Radio’s? Are Governments thinking in that direction? Certainly, Nigeria isn’t and gladly so. But one government is already exploring ways which could see them place levy’s on computer screens. According to this reuters article “the French Government is considering extending TV licensing fee to include computer screen owners to boost revenues”. The French Government is thinking of charging up to $160 (N25,600) for its over 11 million citizens who now watch TV programs on computer screens, tablets and on phones. Imagine if Lagos state were to charge that on say 5million people what will they make? That will fetch them N128b annually, 0.3% of our GDP.
Anyway, this won’t even be happening anytime soon in Lagos and indeed Nigeria. The TV and Radio licenses have been in place but hardly obeyed by most people. Even the LGA’s lack don’t aggressively demand that these fees get paid. That said, the world is a global village and governments are getting as creative as ever in their tax collection drive. Don’t be surprised to hear Fashola tell you one day that in the law TV license refers not just to TV but to any gadget that has the ability to display electronic media production in commercial quantities.