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Court: internet users must pay TV fee

The Local · 2 Oct 2012, 15:32

Published: 02 Oct 2012 15:32 GMT+02:00

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The fees, used to fund public broadcasting which is strong and prolific in Germany, have been a sore point for many for years as they are levied on computers with internet access, regardless of how they are used.

The court rejected a constitutional complaint from a lawyer who said that although the computer he used at his office was connected to the internet, it was not used to receive broadcasts, nor did he intend to use it that way.

He had already lost the argument at a lower court and was then told on Tuesday by the highest court in the country he would have to pay.

Public broadcaster ARD welcomed the decision and the emphasis laid by the judges in the Karlsruhe court on the general importance of public television and radio.

As of 2013, the license fee will be replaced with a flat fee of €17.98 per month to be paid per household regardless of what equipment there is or how much television or radio is received.

Story continues below…

The court said that the extension of the levy to include internet-connected computers was constitutional and prevented a “flight from license fees.”

DAPD/DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:19 October 2, 2012 by DocEllis
Some forms for Fascism never left this country.
17:44 October 2, 2012 by murka
Occasionally I check the weather forecast on wetter.tagesschau.de. Looks like my subscription to this service is €17.98/month, costing as much as my Internet connection.
18:07 October 2, 2012 by BurberryKoenig
Well, the license fee should be included in the fees charged by ISPs. Personally this is a institutionalized rip-off.
18:33 October 2, 2012 by keeps71
I cannot believe they've got away with this! What an absolute disgrace. Yet another government-backed rip-off, like insurance companies and contract law. When are the Germans going to stand up and complain? I don't to watch your pathetic, unimaginative stultifying, ignorant TV programmes!
20:38 October 2, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
In fact I would pay the €17,98 per month NOT to watch German TV. Rubbish of an unbelievable standard. This is a disgraceful decision and highlights yet again that the judiciary in Germany are not independent from the government. I sincerely hope this goes beyond Germany and on to the ECJ. How can it be justified in imposing fees for something one does not use nor ever accepted to use?
20:59 October 2, 2012 by ovalle3.14
I find it crazy how private interests get away with this sort of stuff and ordinary people say nothing against.
21:28 October 2, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
keeps71, you are right. The worst and dullest TV ever. But are you sure you don't believe this? This is the German way. The consumer has no voice.
22:59 October 2, 2012 by coffmap8
I do not have cable and already pay my telkom for my service. I pay every month for internet telephone and nothing more I will not pay more for something I do not get! I have a sattelite service!
23:26 October 2, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
So - I have a plan. Seeing as though German TV is so terrible, why don't we just stab out our eyes and poke pointy things into our ears. It's a win-win... Although you only need to do either one or the other, I highly recommend both just to make sure :)

Gesundheitliche Gründe

Befreit sind auch Menschen, die nicht hören und/oder sehen können (Blinde, Taubblinde). Hierzu muss ein ärztliches Attest und/oder ein aktueller Bewilligungsbescheid/Bescheinigung der Behörde über den Bezug von Leistungen nach § 72 SGB XII.
00:32 October 3, 2012 by Pakistani
hail "deutschland"!................ am hapy that this decision gave me another was to leave germany..........
01:32 October 3, 2012 by herr_james
you sound surprised?

isn't this the same logic that ensures i pay equal heating costs as the family with 5 children that lives in my building? or that i pay 2x my rent for basic health insurance, despite seeing a doctor once a year, maybe for a flu shot?

don't look back, deutschland, always forward. we have a standard of living to pay for...
02:26 October 3, 2012 by coffeelover
Are there any other German to English news sites I can check to verify this story? This is so wrong I just cannot believe it. At the very least, Internet providers can offer tv internet, or non tv internet. This has to be a hoax story. If I buy an Audi, now I have to pay tax to a bicycle maker?
07:36 October 3, 2012 by blogboy
I am wondering what is the budget to support public TV in Germany. There are millions of computers that are used in this country, with a tax of 17.98 a month that is an awful lot of revenue. I can¦#39;t believe that the public TV requires a budget of millions of Euros! So where is this money really going too? Bailing out other EU countries?
08:32 October 3, 2012 by Englishted

Off you go ,enjoy the flight.
09:10 October 3, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Basically Germany is a land of Mäklers dipping their hands into your pockets while you work. Either State Mäklers thinking up various ways to tax you for no preceivable benefit. Look at GEMA also. Then you have Immobilien Mäklers who do nothing for massive fees but it is almost impossible to get a decent flat without them. Then you have the massive health insurance fraud and other insurance companies offering insurances that you would be better off without. I am surprises we don't have to pay car tax also whether or not we have a car.

The whole Eurozone and EU concept is another mäkler scheme thought up by Germany to dip into the resources of other countries and making sure they are the middle man. They are like a virus that has infiltrated the system and impossible to get out. Without Germany the rest of the EU would be better off. This is in no way a negative on the average German. It is aimed towards the big German corporations and government who are fleecing the average citizens of Germany and the rest of the EU.

If things keep going we might just as well work and hand over everything to the state who will distribute amongst their buddies the insurance companies, big German corporations etc. And if you don't like that you will be put in the job centre que where you will be treated like dirt.

Really getting that way.
10:25 October 3, 2012 by melbournite
Happy Reunification Day! No wonder Ossies think that things were better in the DDR
10:41 October 3, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
If this happened in the UK there would be a massive public outcry. This is simply wrong and in no way can this be morally or legally justified. It is about time this 4th Reich was toppled.
11:41 October 3, 2012 by catjones
Do germans pay a separate tax for each line item in the federal budget?
14:32 October 3, 2012 by bobmarchiano
Berlin fuer

People in the UK do pay a TV tax and yes it is outrageous

For myself I do not speak German and have no need for German Television

Paying for something you never use ..... and where does all that money go

There are 37,000,000 households in Germany x 18
14:43 October 3, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

Yes, people in the UK do pay a TV tax but only if they have a TV. This new system in Germany from next year charges you the TV tax is to be paid per household regardless of what equipment there is or how much television or radio is received. Those of us who do not have a TV or Radio must pay from next year onwards even though we have absolutely no use of German TV. This is an arbitrary tax and cannot be legal.
15:05 October 3, 2012 by coffeelover
@bobmarchiano,,and Berlin fuer alies,,,I saw a news snippet some time ago about how some people go around England looking for tv. radio antennae's then check if that address is paying tax for services received, Does this mean there are no commercials on tv or radio? There is no tax in the states for over the air, or, broadcast tv or radio, you just have to put up with the adverts. Also, 37 million households in Germany times 18 Euro's = 666 million Euro's. Yes, the evil number.
15:08 October 3, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
BBC in the UK has no adverts. This is where the TV tax goes. This is also another reason I do not have a TV or pay TV tax in Germany. Why should I pay a TV tax to watch commercials. German TV is spammed with commercials. Even the state sponsored ones.
16:00 October 3, 2012 by Englishted
@Berlin fuer alles

Isn't true that if you have a car you have a car radio (which car doesn't )so you must pay?
16:09 October 3, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
and who says everybody owns a car? By the same reasoning everybody who owns a phone must pay because they could access the internet in a cafe. Those who do have a car with a radio don't pay the tax under current laws unless of course they bring the car with the radio into the house.
17:50 October 3, 2012 by Zubair Khan
Amount per month is too much. When it is on all households in Germany a lesser amount like Euro 20 or 30 per annum can suffice. Hope concerned will use common sense and will not put the masses in financial difficulties.
19:04 October 3, 2012 by Englishted
@Berlin fuer alles

Yes "who says everybody owns a car?"

By the way I would like to inform you that the thing at the end of my post was a ? that is a question mark.

It does not denote a reasoned argument ,so calm down ,any more ?s
19:30 October 3, 2012 by almorr
I live in the UK, here a person pays for 1 TV license whether he has 1 or 10 televisions in the house. If he has only got a radio at home, that is free, no license fee is necessary. If he has a computer and no television, he still has to have a licence to watch BBC programs on the Internet.
19:37 October 3, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
LOL. Sorry about that. I thought it was an open question.

The point is from next year we will all be paying for something we don't use or want even if we don't have a TV or Radio. I work from home and only have internet for work and for entertainment I have a CD player and iTunes on my computer linked to speakers. I only listen to internet radio from my home country. With this new law even people who literally live in a box will be liable for this tax. It cannot be legal to blancket charge everyone like this. Next we will be blanked taxed Mehrwertsteur for alcohol whether or not we drink.

Also, as Zubair says. This is a huge fee when you consider 17.98 X 12 x 30000000 = 6,472,800,000 EUR. ie almost 6 and half billion euros per year. I would like to see movies the equivalent of titanic being made every week in Germany for that amount.
22:43 October 3, 2012 by nemo999
Angela secret plan to fund the bail out of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, and Ireland. It is another master stroke by the masters of the universe. And we wondered where they were going to get the money for the bail out, they are not as dumb as they look.
00:16 October 4, 2012 by wethepeople2012
I was once asked by my German brother-in-law, as an American, what comes first to mind when I here the word, "Germany"? I said, "surprising to him", " taxes and beer"!

Yet again they have found a way to collect from the sheep!

I believe it was much cheaper in the middle ages when the King and his henchmen collected "taxes" or "whatever they called it" on the poor population.

I have lived in Germany more than 30 yrs and have never seen a western country so passive when it's leaders put their fingers deeper and deeper in it's people's pockets. The Germans are known to protest everything from bad weather to the Oktoberfest-but they dare not resist more taxes..lol.

At present, the average German pays 50% in taxes a year and from what I can see, seem to simply accept it and nothing they can do about it.

Now I know how easy it is for someone like Herr A.H. to come to power. Maybe as an American, I will run as the next P.M. or President of Germany. After all, George I of England came from Hannover, Herr A.H. and Herr Schwarzenegger, both from Austria, became leaders in foreign countries.

My point!

Sometime the sheep have to wake up and see the truth. Hopefully, this new tax at tax payer expense, and not the Troika, will pay back the money the rich have paid for the PIIGS.
01:42 October 4, 2012 by bobmarchiano
calling Germans sheep is going a little to far BUT

They also pay 17% sales tax on all most everything they buy

Pay 14 cents per minute to call to the cable,phone, electric....... companies

for a service call. And then get put on hold for more bad service.

Businesses that have to close on Sundays because of the Church.

Landlords that are allowed to charge 3 months security and then have 6 months

to returned the security after having to give a 3 month notice to move

I can see why a TV tax would not bother them they see at as normal
08:47 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
And don't forget the church taking tax. OK, you can opt out of Church tax but then you will not be eligible for some services like child day care even though the state subsitises these with state tax.

The German government then pressurises other EU countries to dig deeper into the pockets of their citizens and give them less public service for their money all in the name of austerity to support this German made EU system. And they wonder why citizens of other EU countries complain and riot and demonstrate. German government just not used to people complaining about more and more unnnecessary tax and not wanting to be like the German sheep.
09:07 October 4, 2012 by Peepopaapo
1. To all the ones who are complaining about German television: You don't necessarily have to watch RTL, RTL2, ProSieben or Sat. 1 - what about watching ARD, ZDF or especially Phoenix, Arte, Bayern Alpha, etc where there is not that much advertisement (in the first two cases) or no advertisement at all (in the following cases).

2. If Germany left the Eurozone other strong European economies like the Netherlands, Austria, Finland or Luxembourg would instantly follow - or do you really think that these countries with a relatively small population would be able to support bankrupt countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece or Spain on their very own - they don't even really want to support them (especially Finland).

3. At least modern Germans would not vote for a guy like George W. Bush junior.

4. Everyone is free to leave this country...
10:34 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

The usual "you are free to leave" comment when justified critism is given.

Firstly, this tax is aimed at EVERYONE whether or not they have a TV or WANT to watch TV. The freedom to not have a TV and not pay tax for one is what is being taken away here.

Secondly, if Germany left the Eurozone Germany would have a very strong currency and exports would suffer. The rest of the Eurozone would have a weaker currency and the likes of Greece, Portugal, Spain would gain through tourism and exports. And do not be so sure that Austria, Luxembourg, Holland and Finland would follow Germany. The point is Germany will not leave the Eurozone as it needs it far more than admitted and is benefiting far more than admitted. So shut up with the "Germany pays" argument as it is Germanys interest to pay and not so much in the rest of the EUs interest as Germany likes to make out.

Thirdly, Germans would not vote for George Bush. No, they would just sit around like sheep and let someone like A.H constitutionaly take power, remove the independence of the judiciary, give himself emergency powers and wage war on the rest of the world.

Yes, everyone is free to leave this country as Germany are also. Look abroad and see how many of your countrymen and women have also choosen this route. :-)
10:42 October 4, 2012 by BobbyBaxter

Only your first point has anything to do with the article. So please stich to the case in point. However, your first point is utter rubbish anyway.

It is a FACT that German TV is utter CRAP. I work at a multinational company (lots of foreign workers) and the one thing people can agree on is how crap German TV is. I would not mind paying the money if the TV was half decent but it is just pure and utter crap. If you think it is good then I am guessing you are a German who has never lived abroad. I for one never, I repeat, never watch German TV so why on earth should I watch this dirge?

I for one whole heartedly agree with every word 'Berlin fuer alles' has stated so far .....
11:25 October 4, 2012 by Peepopaapo
@ BobbyBaxter:

Well, I have actually lived abroad (France and Malta) and I disagree - it may seem strange to you, but you can also get foreign channels in Germany and from what I have seen so far German channels like Phoenix, Arte or Bayern Alpha are way better than a lot of foreign channels I have seen until now. Actually calling them "crap" - as you do - is pretty offensive.

Furthermore with points two and three of my comment I only replied to statements which came from guys like "Berlin fuer alles".

Have a nice day and best regards.
11:34 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles

The fundamental fact you ignore is the freedom to choose whether or not to have a TV and pay tax is being taken away. This is akin to being charged tobbacco tax whether or not you smoke or tax on alcohol whether or not you drink alcohol.

By the way, you are by far in the minority when thinking TV in Germany is better than foreign channels. In fact the programs usually shown or Arte are BBC made and dubbed into German.

Ciao ciao now and have a nice day with your comrades.
11:44 October 4, 2012 by Peepopaapo
@ Berlin fuer alles: I don't ignore this fact, but my ONLY intent was to refer to the quality of German television, especially the channels I mentioned above and when it comes to these certain channels I have a different opinion than you have.

The things which can be seen on Arte are actually mostly German-French co-productions as Arte itself is a German-French channel whose intention is to support German-French friendship and understanding for each other.

Thank you, have a nice day, too.
12:14 October 4, 2012 by BobbyBaxter

I appologise for using the the word 'crap'. You are right it is 'pretty offensive'. I shall try harder next time to think of a stronger word to use to describe the utter dross that is German TV. The only programmes that are of decent quality are the foreign made porgrammes - usually BBC, albeit with horrendous dubbing.

I appreciate you are entitled to your opinion etc etc but I find it really hard to believe that you genuinely think that German TV is worth nearly 18 euros a month !!!

And as 'Berliner fur Alles' states, this tax is effectively a cumpulsory tax as I know of NO ONE that does not have some form of technology that can access the ariwaves or internet in some way.

In fact I would argue it is a tax on our freedom of information - and hence therefore against our Constitutional Rights.
12:21 October 4, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Fully agree with you BobbyBaxter. No choice been given and we must now pay an extortion in order to be allowed use the internet.

I would urge everyone NOT to pay this tax and wait for the outcome of the inevitable appeals to the European Court of Justice. This would not by far be the first time Germany has infringed articles of the European Treaty. We are entitled to access to information and should not be subject to a tax on something we have chosen not to use (German TV).
02:13 October 5, 2012 by schneebeck
Regarding high German taxes in general and not specific to this one TV tax, I am really surprised at how many different kinds of taxes have been mentioned in these posts.

How do Germans survive on the money they have left after paying all of these different taxes? What is their secret? All Germans have to partake of every government entitlement they can just to keep up with all these taxes. Is that their secret?
03:16 October 5, 2012 by brooklyngreens
mmmmhhh....??!?! is this true!?... Just build back the wall around us.... Same Crap... :-//
09:49 October 5, 2012 by narfmaster
Just to put this into perspective (all info from Wikipedia):

PBS (US public channel) budget: $445 million. Does not include donations to run individual stations.

BBC budget: £5.086 billion

France Télévisions: €2,853 million

Apparently the German broadcasters already spend 6 billion EU / year:

"Public TV and radio stations spend about 60% of the ~10 Bil. € spent altogether for broadcasting in Germany per year, making it the most expensive public broadcasting system in the world."

So, any of you wondering what they were going to do with all the new tax money should know that they are ALREADY spending that kind of money on what most can agree is pretty bad television. It is highly likely the previous TV tax didn't cover the 6 billion, so it must have been subsidized with other tax money. This is obviously a tax hike to cover the costs of a broken broadcasting system.
10:02 October 5, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Interesting figures narfmaster

The BBC budget is less than the German state TV budget and I am sure everyone will agree the BBC is by far superior to anything that gets thrown out by German state TV. In fact the German channels simply dub BBC documentaries and show them. On top of that the BBC has no advertisements. German TV is therefore far more expensive to produce and is very much inferior.

Also in the UK, if you don't want to watch TV and do not have a TV you do not have to pay for it. In Germany this ain't so either. Disgusting!!!
13:17 October 5, 2012 by nonicknameleft
What about the homeless guy who listens to football daily sleeping in front of the Kampgen shoe shop on Schildergasse in Köln city? Is he paying too? He understands German at least!
23:50 October 11, 2012 by coffmap8
I have never had German cable in the 29 years I have been here. I have a satellite tv service and pay my internet usage though my Telekom bill. What am I paying a tax on? These people are tax crazy. My cable has been blocked for the 10 years I have been in this house. Sometimes I wonder how this country lets the govt walk all over them for what?
02:15 October 15, 2012 by kpachinger
My flatmate's lawyer says it stymies international legal fees. What rot!
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