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What to know about changes to cable TV fees in Germany this July

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
What to know about changes to cable TV fees in Germany this July
A person watches TV at home. Changes to cable TV connections in Germany are coming. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Reinhardt

Millions of people renting an apartment in Germany will have received letters in recent months about a significant change to cable TV connections happening from July. Do you have to take action?

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Up to now, many tenants in Germany have been paying cable TV connection fees as part of their Nebenkosten - additional costs - in their rental contract. 

That's due to a rule called the ancillary cost privilege (Nebenkostenprivileg) dating back to the 1980s which meant landlords in Germany could set up agreements with telecom companies to supply cable network to entire buildings and charge their tenants. 

It typically costs tenants around €5-€9 per month, depending on the contract. 

The law was abolished as part of an amendment to the Telecommunications Act (TKG) and came into force on December 1st, 2021. However, the transition period lasts until June 30th 2024. From July 1st, a new system applies where landlords will no longer be in charge of these contracts and fees. 

READ ALSO: The five weirdest and best German TV shows for improving your German 

Do I have to take action?

If you're affected, you should have received notice from your landlord about the change. You may also have been contacted by service providers urging you to set up an individual contract to avoid losing your cable TV connection. 

If you want to continue having access to cable TV in your home, you might have to arrange a new contract - but remember that you can shop around to do so, you don't have to stick with your current provider. 

Will the costs change?

A downside of this change is that your cable costs are likely to go up. An individual contract for cable TV could be a few euros more or even double what tenants currently pay (depending on their current deal with the landlord). 

That's because landlords are generally able to negotiate better deals for a full building or set of apartments as part of 'multi-user' contracts.

READ ALSO: Why tenants in Germany could face higher costs for cable TV this year

However, consumer rights groups expect prices to fall in the long term due to more competition. 


Do I have to pay this new fee?

There's no obligation. If you want to continue accessing cable TV channels, you can opt for alternatives such as DVB-T2 HD, which offers around 40 channels in high definition with an indoor or rooftop aerial, or satellite television. 

Meanwhile, experts say that if you only use your cable connection for broadband Internet and/or the telephone, you can stick with the contract. If the TV signal is not used, the provider should install a corresponding filter box on the connection. 

Around one in five households in Germany uses the Internet to stream TV rather than using a cable or satellite connection - and this figure has doubled in the past five years. 

It is also possible to take out a contract for cable TV and another for Internet and telephone with a different provider. 

If you have any queries, you should contact a service provider or consumer rights group for advice as soon as possible to look at your options. 


Be wary of salespeople trying to strike a quick deal

The consumer advice centre is warning against so-called media consultants visiting people at home or calling because they may at times put consumers under pressure to sign cable contracts.

Consumer protection organisations advise consumers taken by surprise not to act too hastily. 

If you have any doubts, take some time to think about your options and only conclude contracts after you've made a firm decision. 



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