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States may pull the plug on TV licence fee authority GEZ

The Local · 27 Oct 2009, 17:14

Published: 27 Oct 2009 17:14 GMT+01:00

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The premiers of Germany’s 16 federal states are planning a meeting to discuss reforming the fees scheme that includes a per-household sum instead of the current system, which charges per radio and television, the paper said.

GEZ stands for the mouthful Gebühreneinzugszentrale der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or “Fee-collection Centre of Public Broadcasting Institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany.”

The organisation requires a licence to own and use televisions, radio and since the past few years even the internet. The fee money funds public broadcasters such as ARD and ZDF, and is often collected by plainclothes officials who go door-to-door busting fee shirkers.

Several states have already expressed an interest in making the change ahead of Thursday’s meeting, a decision private broadcasters have long favoured, the paper reported.

Jürgen Doetz, president of the VPRT, an alliance of private radio stations, told the paper he hoped a revised policy would limit the amount of funds that go to public broadcasters, adding that the amount threatens to grow continuously as the GEZ applies fees to new gadgets like laptops and iPhones.

“The per-household fee is the only possibility for the future,” he told the paper.

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Public broadcasters earned €7.26 billion in GEZ fees in 2008, and while public acceptance of the system is low, they are hesitant to advocate a change.

“We still don't have enough figures to be for or against the household fee,” an ARD spokesperson told the paper.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:54 October 27, 2009 by jillesvangurp
Other EU countries killed the TV license. I'm OK with my taxes being partially redirected to public broadcasters. This separate tax enforced by a separate agency is just ridiculous. Just merge this into general taxes and stop bothering people. The book keeping and enforcing probably costs a sizable portion of the money collected. All unnecessary.
20:00 October 27, 2009 by Edmond Schindler
I agree robinson100, the per household fee will be some formula that some will welcome as a savings, and my guess, most will find themselves paying more than before. The fee now includes car radio's, short wave receivers, radio's, laptops, notebooks & desktops that sport internet connections, TV's...it's quite extensive coverage.

In my household of two we have eight devices capable of radio or Television signal reception. We are required to pay a fee for those we own, even if we do not use them all for the capability that is license-able.

How can a real and fair accessment be appointed each household under a flat License?

How will we fair this change? Will there be an appeal process?

One more 'cost' for the retired pensioner to incur and endure...speaking for myself.
10:47 October 28, 2009 by moistvelvet
I always thought the "pay per item" fee was flawed, so long as you pay for a TV they don't come round knocking. When I first came to Germany I made the mistake and ignored the GEZ because like many here had the belief "Why should I pay it, I don't watch German TV". Crazy idea, as when I didn't pay or protested they just came round and counted up all the radios, TVs giving me an even higher bill if I had just kept quiet and obeyed.

But now I pay for the minimal TV license and I don't mind even though I still don't watch German TV, however like the BBC now I understand that for any public service brodacast to work everyone has to pay for it, it is made available to everyone whether they use it or not. Without a PSB the alternative would be a commercialised TV media like the fragmented system in the US which does little to no public service to educate, inform and entertain.

It seems obvious that the GEZ will go up since if many are like me we aren't paying the full amount and a single tariff will be fair to everyone.
18:18 October 28, 2009 by Bushdiver
I don't see this changing for the better at all. In Germany,once they impose a tax on something it's never removed. I for one don't see why there is a tax period. Like the column says, it supports stations (Mainly ARD, ZDF and HR-3). All these channels still have commercials which I'm sure they aren't providing for free. I say close down ARD, ZDF and the rest who live off this tax. They can support themselves the same way other private TV stations do.
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