Language group moots GEZ boycott and support for BBC over radio

Language group moots GEZ boycott and support for BBC over radio
Inexplicable use of mittens? Photo: DPA
A German language association has called for a boycott of the GEZ public broadcasting licence fees because radio stations in the country rarely play German music - instead listeners should pay the BBC.

The Verein Deutsche Sprache said this week it hopes to encourage radio broadcasters to feature more music by national artists, who currently make up less than 10 percent of the songs played in Germany.

The Cologne-based 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 of some 42.5 million owners of televisions, radios and, for the past few years, even computers and mobile phones that access 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.

But the VDS said beginning on September 1 the group’s 33,000 members should send only €4 of their monthly radio fees of €5.76 to the GEZ. Of the remaining €1.76, €0.76 should then go to the BBC, the organisation said.

“The money for English music should go to where it comes from,” VDS leader Walter Krämer said in a statement.

The organisation wants the German language as a “form of culture” to receive more support. The call to boycott GEZ fees is the most recent action in ongoing efforts which spurred a parliamentary hearing in 2004. That event led to an increase in German music content on radio stations, the statement said.

The GEZ was unavailable for comment on the action.

Last week the country’s state premiers agreed to overhaul the GEZ system, instituting a simpler flat household rate instead of a per-device fee.

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