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TV licence fee reform will hurt businesses, experts warn

The Local · 18 Oct 2010, 09:05

Published: 18 Oct 2010 09:05 GMT+02:00

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Over the summer, Germany’s 16 states agreed to overhaul the system funding public TV and radio. But what was intended to be a simplification could cost some companies and households up to double the fees they paid previously, the president of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) said.

“In cases of doubt the economy would have to pay up to double as much as before,” Hans Heinrich Driftmann told daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “It will hit some, such as chain stores, particularly hard.”

In an example, Driftmann explained that a drugstore chain with 23,000 workers and 1,150 stores would have to pay up to half a million euros per year in GEZ fees, but a single-location business the same size would pay just €32,000.

“We can’t accept that,” the DIHK president said.

Meanwhile Otto Kentzler, head of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH), told daily Passauer Neue Presse that it was unacceptable for “numerous businesses to be in danger of paying two, three or even six times as much as before.”

Already German businesses provide some €450 million in GEZ fees to finance the public broadcast system, he said, saying this made up about six percent of the organisation’s entire earnings.

The new GEZ fee model, set to begin in 2013, would charge a per-household fee for private television and radio owners. Businesses would also no longer pay per device, with fees being based on their number of employees, locations and vehicles.

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.”

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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.

It’s a difficult task for the organisation’s 1,100 employees, and consumers frequently bring cases against the GEZ to court. The 2013 reforms are meant to relieve families of high fees and reduce internal costs.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:25 October 18, 2010 by veritas_69
They need to do away with this altogether. Seriously, they should just confiscate everyone's salary, and then give us back the few Euro we'd be left with anyway.
11:38 October 18, 2010 by venkyfra
OMG.. this is crazy!! why cant media be totally privatized? What is in for the government? I dont get it!!

Bunch of administrators everywhere.

Reminds me of old BBC sitcom 'Yes minister'!!
12:16 October 18, 2010 by William Thirteen
i would prefer that the fees be folded in with the usual taxes. I enjoy their programming but the GEZ harassment is a turn off. Of course, what will those poor GEZ workers do for a living now? perhaps they can get jobs as enforcers for the local protection rackets.
12:24 October 18, 2010 by moistvelvet
"why cant media be totally privatized?"

Because like in the US it would be sensationalised commercial crap. Countries need a PSB,we should all pay for it, but for value for money the German system needs to start producing some better quality stuff to justify the cost.
12:58 October 18, 2010 by DinhoPilot

You pay for crap tv. Where is the quality? Mostly is american games shows and series! Same goes for the music!


Props to you! LOL!
13:25 October 18, 2010 by venkyfra

So German public broadcast doesnt have any commercial crap is it? Havent really observed much. But what is the need for 22 TV channels(I'm not including HD ones)?

why should government run FM radio? That too lot of it. Just in Frankfurt I see 4 'hr' radio channels & 'you FM' all run by government. All of them play same music, same ad & same traffic info. What is the point?

Where is the ad revenue going, to charity??
14:09 October 18, 2010 by michael4096
"Reminds me of old BBC sitcom 'Yes minister'!!"

Oh! The irony! Yes, Minister could only have been made with public media policy like this one
20:01 October 18, 2010 by Gretl
Please get rid of "public" radio. I prefer the American PBS and NPR approach to "public" media - a channel to choose from among a host of commerical channels. And for those who think commercial channels are all crap - National Geographic Channel, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and the Military Channel are all examples of what used to be on PBS but have found their way into a commercial setting.
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