Monday, June 30, 2014

German TV and GEZ

This kinda came out in Germany that the German TV tax guys are a bit disturbed.  They've come to figure that around fifteen million residences in Germany....aren't paying that TV tax.  It's a heck of a lot of money that ought to be going into the pot....that isn't.

German TV was designed in the 1950s with a state-run mechanism.  Rather than have commericals cover the was a government thing, and everyone needed to pay if they owned a single TV or a single radio.  This concept lived on till the last five years when a flat fee deal was put together.  Today, if you own a radio or pay a simple 5.52 Euro fee.  If you own a TV, you pay a 17.03 Euro fee.  All monthly.

Through all the decades, the GEZ folks (the license and fee folks of mechanism).....built up a huge database of houses....who lived where.....and who paid.  It's probably the most comprehensive listing of any country in Europe.  The smart guys have compared the listing and what is coming realizing there's a problem.

The issues?  First, there's probably at least five million Germans or 'guests' who absolutely refuse to pay for the license.  They consider this state taxation game for TV to be bogus and would rather just refuse to pay it.  The punishment?  Well....the inspectors can come around and ask to enter your home.....but there's no legal method existing today for them to enter....unless a judge gets involved.

Second, there's a fair number of empty homes, cottages and apartments around Germany.  This database in question.....doesn't really take into consideration these empty places.  Some numbers of question....suggest around 1.8 million residences empty at present in Germany.  There's been real estate commentary going around that the number is increasing yearly as people die off, and the population lessens....with urban decay underway.

Third, the behavioral folks suggest that a growing crowd of German youths are simply abandoning TV in general.....sticking with internet delivery devices.  This crowd has zero interest in state-run TV or any of it's offerings.  Personally, I'm expecting a court episode sooner or later where some judge asks ARD or ZDF (the two big players of state-run TV) why they bother with internet streaming when there's not a big crowd asking for the service or using the service.

There's roughly between forty-five million and fifty million residences reported in Germany, depending on who you get the numbers from.  If fifteen million residences aren't playing along, it really begs attention.  Can the present model survive with the 17-Euro fee for TV per residence.....if a quarter of the population refuses to pay?  Would people be accepting of the idea of pushing up the fee to 24-Euro to make up for the loss?  Will some court step in and abolish the whole tax scheme?  There's a lot of questions here, and I suspect something big will have to occur in 2015 to settle these questions.

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