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Up to 10 million people could be hit by threatened radio shut down

The airwaves across many parts of Germany could fall silent next week due to a financial dispute between radio stations and an FM broadcasting provider.

Up to 10 million people could be hit by threatened radio shut down
Photo: DPA

The company Media Broadcast announced on Friday that it would cut off FM broadcasters for several radio stations if they did not immediately fulfil certain payment demands.

“Up to 10 million radio listeners could be affected by their FM broadcaster being cut off from Wednesday onwards,” company head Wolfgang Breuer told Die Welt.

Major public service broadcasters such as MDR, NDR and Deutschlandfunk are among those who could be cut off, the newspaper reported.

The dispute began when Media Broadcast, formerly a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, decided to move focus away from FM radio and onto digital platforms last year.

The shift meant that broadcasting antennae across Germany, for which Media Broadcast had previously been responsible, were sold to private investors.

Broadcasters and their network operators were then left furious when many of the new owners raised prices for the use of their antennae, leading to a stalemate in business negotiations.

Hessian broadcaster FFH told dpa that a 50 percent rise in the cost of antennae use had left them with a “massive problem”.

In order to break the stalemate, Media Broadcast recently agreed to continue operating all antennae until the end of June, so as to provide more time for negotiations. Yet such an arrangement would still require the stations to contract the company during that period.

Media Broadcast now claims that around 75 percent of stations have not done this, and has threatened to cut these stations off if they do not officially contract the company by Monday.

Though digital and online streaming radio will still be available, the mass cut-off of FM radio broadcasts would affect a huge proportion of the population.

According to Bild, around 92.7 percent of Germans said they still preferred listening to radio on an analogue device in a poll last year.

JEWISH

German newspaper Bild prints cut-out kippa to fight anti-Semitism

German daily Bild published a cut-out-and-use kippa on Monday in a bid to fight rising anti-Semitism, after Jews were warned about the potential dangers of wearing the traditional skullcap in Germany.

German newspaper Bild prints cut-out kippa to fight anti-Semitism
A man wearing a kippa in Hesse. Photo: DPA

Over the weekend, Felix Klein, the German government's commissioner on anti-Semitism, said he “cannot advise Jews to wear the kippa everywhere all the time in Germany”, in an interview given to the Funke regional press group.

READ ALSO: 'Shocked' Israel president says Jews are unsafe in Germany

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin voiced shock at Klein's warning and said it was a “capitulation to anti-Semitism” and evidence that Jews are unsafe in Germany.

Bild, Germany's top-selling daily newspaper, waded into the debate, calling on readers to “stand in solidarity with (their) Jewish neighbours” by making “their own kippa”, bearing the star of David, to “raise the flag against anti-Semitism”.

Rejecting the warning to leave off the kippa “seven decades after the Holocaust”, Bild's chief editor Julian Reichelt wrote: “There is only one answer to that: No, it cannot be the case!

“If that is so, then we have failed in the face of our history,” he said.

Urging readers to cut out the skullcap and wear it, Reichelt stressed that “the kippa belongs to Germany.”

Germany, like other western countries, has watched with alarm as anti-Semitic and other racist hate speech and violence have increased in recent years while the political climate has coarsened and grown more
polarized.

Anti-Semitic crimes rose by 20 percent in Germany last year, according to Interior Ministry data which blamed nine out of 10 cases on the extreme right.

The arrival in parliament of the far-right AfD, whose leaders openly question Germany's culture of atonement for World War II atrocities, has also contributed to the change in atmosphere.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also deplored “another form of anti-Semitism” stemming from a major asylum-seeker influx, with many coming from Muslim countries like Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.

“That the number of anti-Semitic crimes is increasing should be a cause of great concern for all of us in Germany,” Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday.

“It is the task of the state to ensure that everyone can move freely with a kippa anywhere in our country and we stand by that responsibility.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has already issued several warnings about wearing the kippa in public.

In one prominent case last year, a 19-year-old Syrian man was convicted for assault after lashing out with his belt at an Israeli man wearing a Jewish kippa skullcap while shouting “yahudi”, Jew in Arabic.

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