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Broadcasting fees spark coalition rift

DDP/The Local · 12 Dec 2009, 14:40

Published: 12 Dec 2009 14:40 GMT+01:00

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Details of a disagreement in the German government over funding for state broadcasters emerged on Saturday, following proposals to expand the license fees to include laptops and mobile phones with internet access. The CDU's junior coalition partner the FDP favours completely scrapping the current system, which is based on the type and number of media devices that individuals keep at home.

Speaking to the Welt am Sonntag Sunday newspaper, FDP media spokesman Burkhardt Müller-Sönksen lambasted the current payment system. "The long out-of-date device-based concept needs to replaced with a flat media fee, lower than the current licence fee, paid by every adult with their own income," he said.

In the same paper, CDU media expert Wolfgang Börnsen argued for a modified form of the current system to be preserved. Börnsen said this was fairer and would guarantee the security of state income from license fees, which has been declining. "People who don't want to pay must prove they do not own any media devices," he said. The FDP has repeatedly spoken out against such burdens of proof.

But the two politicians agreed that state broadcasting needed to be protected and that the rise in internet use demanded reform to state media. "We want to preserve the national media tradition, but the speed of the changes in our media means that we need to discuss more than just fees," said Börnsen.

Müller-Sönksen added, "Our media system, with its concept of 'basic services', was created when broadcast frequencies were rare commodities, but because reception has now been made so much easier by the internet, the question arises - what does this mean for our definition of basic services?"

Story continues below…

Germany's 16 state premiers are set to make a decision on the future of licence fees at a conference in June 2010.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

07:48 December 13, 2009 by pepsionice
Curious that no one is asking about the salary level of the state-run network guys.....the costs of buying up the Olympics, world cup, etc.....is also a topic no one will discuss.

After the big-two on the state-run TV side.....the number of viewers for these regional stations is a very minor group. For the life of me....I can't understand this $400 bill I end up with each year and what it really represents. And by 2020....I expect to be paying $600 easily.
11:16 December 13, 2009 by Bushdiver
I agree totally. I think they can support themselves like any of the other private stations and if they can't well then good-bye. Germany never ceases to amaze me at the way they keep trying to find ways to get money out of it's citizens. I worked freelance for one of the State run stations for over 25 years. Them seem to have way to many people employed which don't really have anything to do. I always thought they could cut the work force in half with no loss of production. Wait until next year. They will probably introduce a new tax for people living in the Green sticker zones for being able to breath supposedly cleaner air.
15:57 December 13, 2009 by mixxim
It seems that the masses do not watch these programs anyway. Why not make all progams self funding on a commercial basis?
23:00 December 14, 2009 by William Thirteen
so we can enjoy quality programming like they have in the US?
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