Back a couple of years ago....the state-run TV folks sat down and realized that a growing number of viewers of TV....weren't going to get it via over-the-air or via satellite connections. They were going to the internet. So a definition of the TV tax was extended down to include "media", which was defined as internet-related as well.
Naturally, a number of people were disturbed by this....mostly the youth of Germany. They took this through the court system. Today....the highest court of Germany ruled that any TV or radio....even that gained via the internet....had to require you the user to pay the German TV/radio/media tax. To make this slightly appealing back when this was first handed out years ago....they shifted the fee system around to one flat fee....roughly eighteen Euro (figure around $22). The happy part to this deal was that you could have twelve radios in the house, or three computers, or even nine TVs.....but you paid one flat fee.
Some folks got happy over the one flat fee. But a fair number of folks basically said that they weren't getting any state-run TV or state-run radio via the internet, and they felt it was a total waste to force them into the corner on this entire issue.
So here's the blunt truth.
Everyday, there are more state-run TV viewers dying off, and not being replaced. ARD and ZDF executives can argue all they want.....but the general numbers for the entire year are not appealing. It's a older generation who watches state-run TV. Adding to this mess...the state-run team has added a special channel out there on the spectrum, which was supposed to attract the 14-25 year old group, with more comedy or action shows. It hasn't exactly shown much success. It's a marginal network success....at best.
The non-state run channels? Well....that's another thing. Its a growing number of the teenage population who using YouTube and various foreign networks. They've found a vast territory in front of the themselves....and the state-run TV empire might not be part of that.
What happens? Well....the state-run TV management folks will likely increase their tax on media within a couple of years to twenty-one Euro....simply because cost will rise. Increased viewers? No....they won't be able to show much except maybe World Cup viewership for one dynamic year. The political folks will come to agree with this rise.....but it'll be the first of some negative discussions about shutting down various state-run TV networks. One or two of the state-run channels will be sacrificed in this effort....to make the public happy.
Somewhere down the road in twenty years....the numbers of viewers for German state-run TV will become a joke. Too many viewers will have passed on, and this tax discussion will come to be a major part of some political election down the road. What the German court system did today....was simply guarantee a major discussion and political battle in a decade or two.