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Firms and disabled slam new TV licence fee

Published: 10 Jan 2013 12:22 GMT+01:00

From January 1, the licence fee that funds Germany's public broadcasters is being regulated differently, so that every household must pay a flat €17.98 a month, regardless of whether it actually contains a TV or radio or not.

The new rules have proven a disadvantage for businesses with multiple branches, and Rossmann announced on Thursday that it would be taking legal action against the fee, or Rundfunkbeitrag, after it found that its yearly costs would leap from €40,000 to €200,000.

Since the firm is also planning to take over branches from the bankrupt retail chain Schlecker, Rossmann's expenses could eventually be even higher - a spokesman said the "absolute" figure could be as much €291,000 a year.

Confirming a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the spokesman said that Rossmann's suit was founded on the charge that the new Rundfunkbeitrag put it at a disadvantage to companies of similar size but with a business model that required fewer branches.

That view was shared by Martin Wansleben, head of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), who told the Handelsblatt newspaper that the multiple-branched firms would be significantly worse off because of the new fees.

Speaking to news magazine Der Spiegel last week, Lutz Marmor, chairman of Germany's main public TV channel ARD, admitted that there had been more complaints about the licence fee than usual. "With companies that have a lot of branches, I can understand the complaints to some extent," he said. "But there are also firms who are paying less."

Marmor also admitted that there had been mistakes in collecting the new fees, such as when the individual occupants of care homes had been sent payment demands. "When I heard that, it was clear to me - that is unacceptable," he said.

There have also been complaints from disabled rights groups, who said the new rules meant that the deaf and blind would no longer be automatically exempt from paying the fee.

"The majority of people with disabilities are still being left out in the cold," Adolf Bauer, president of the SoVD, an association that represents the interests of the socially disadvantaged, told the Rheinische Post newspaper. "It is nonsense to reach into the pockets of dementia sufferers or people in care with inadequate seeing and hearing abilities."

The new rules mean that only people who are both deaf and blind will be automatically exempt from the fee, while deaf people and those with severe sight impairment only have to pay a reduced fee of €5.99 a month.

But some people may be better off under the new rules: households shared by multiple people still only have to pay once - which comes in handy for a communal living project in Düsseldorf that apparently contains 60 people. "We would like to take in people who don't want to pay," said project initiator Klaus Moskob, who would be willing to take over the extra cost.

The Local/DPA/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:00 January 10, 2013 by blackboot11
If the benefactors of these increased fees were running ther respective operations with 'german effeciency' and not taking fat salaries, then there would be no need at all to have this fee.

they certainly have enough revenue from all the commercial advertizing that they sell... why should we have to subsidize their gloat?
13:09 January 10, 2013 by pepsionice
I would say this...if a review was conducted and it was determined that half the German public never watched any of the state-run TV networks....it'd shock the political folks. Most of the ARD/ZDF crowd are all over the age of 40. No one under the age of twenty-five watches them. So their complain is legit....why pay for something that you don't use.
14:00 January 10, 2013 by lucksi
Companies should not be required to pay this fee at all.

Everybody who works in a store/factory/whathaveyou has already paid and so has everyone who is a customer.

Because -in the end- those costs are passed on to the consumer anyway. So it is them who pay double. For something that most of them don't use nor want.

And 20 bucks a month is too much. My phone/internet bill is only 25 bucks and that is where I get the information I need. Not on some TV channels that cater to the above 60 viewership.
15:15 January 10, 2013 by Dalmation
One would want to have severe sight impairment and/or be deaf to watch that crap in the first place.
15:32 January 10, 2013 by auslanderus
One question, why have people just said ok, I will pay? When will people finally stand up and say hell no, I and 80,000,000 people say no more putting your fingers in my wallet when you want. People have a voice, use it.....
16:02 January 10, 2013 by chicagolive
The only time I have ever watched the public stations was during a national team match. Besides that never I even removed them from my regular station list. I will pay the same amount as my phone bill for something I pretty much never use. I guess games must cost the 5 billion these public operators are making. Hell if they had quality programming like BBC I would say okay but this is not so at all.
16:07 January 10, 2013 by raandy
@ auslanderus does not work like that here, people will generally go along with the rule and will inform on you if you don't.
16:15 January 10, 2013 by Dalmation
MediaMarkt will pay the same per store as a Spätverkauf laden. Another nail in the coffin of small business.

The amount of advertising on German TV as well as this cash cow should mean quality programming. However I am sure TV will not improve and the only thing worthwhile to watch will continue to be foreign programs dubbed into German. I would love to know what salaries German broadcasters pay themselves.
19:22 January 10, 2013 by Englishted
German television companies and the government are greedy ,in 2006 for the world cup in Germany they even approached F.I.F.A. to try to get the half time break extended to fit in more adverts .It was one of the only times I agreed with F.I.F.A..
09:32 January 11, 2013 by gkh50
the little shites, but I just transferred myself as a "micro" company and keep the same cost as my 1 radio.... Bastardoos.. and I do not even have a TV or watch German TV: Pick up UK On Demand stuff (no license required)
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