Sunday, December 28, 2014

State-run TV Under Pressure

There was an interesting news piece to come out in Germany this weekend....over the TV tax.  It's a brief piece over an evaluation board that met and covered the tax.....coming to the conclusion that it has to be changed (yet again).  The board?  Composed of Treasury Department members.

If you read through the various accounts....you come to this basic description.  The board says that for a tax of this sort to exist and be functional.....there needs to be a voluntary function for the user, not a mandatory function (such as we have now).  It's supply-side economics....you can't have the supply-side folks deciding what they will do and then mandating it upon the consumer.  If the consumer won't use the services.....then there's no way to ration or really explain the whole purpose behind the tax.

Right now, most folks pay in the range of 200 Euro a year for a residence and it's TV tax. This covers everything, from internet to TV, and includes radio.

Odds of anything coming out of this report?  Zero.  It'll be discussed, and the TV 'mafia' will just say that they need X amount of funding to operate.  If you told them it'd be cut by five percent.....they'd freak out and try to use political 'muscle' to charm the governor's board that runs the operation.

For an American viewing this.....it's an odd problem that gets discussed several times a year.

Prior to 1984, there was just state-run TV.  Along came RTL to challenge the state-run TV crowd.....with commercial operations.  The state-run TV crowd (thugs would be a more appropriate word) used every trick in the book to deny operations, and the original beaming of a signal came out of Luxembourg....not Germany.

Today....Channel One (ARD) and Channel Two (ZDF).....both state-run operations....still have significant numbers.  But the other commercial channels are all expanding and drawing stronger audiences each year.  If you pull the numbers for the 15-to-24 year-old crowd.....state-run TV is dismal and not having any audience.  The over-50 crowd?  They probably have a minimum of fifty percent of the audience.

If you count everything.....there's around twenty-odd stations now under the state-run TV folks.  After Channel One and Channel Two......there's nine regional channels.  As things went digital.....the state-run TV crowd threw a couple of new stations into the mix (a culture channel and a youth channel).  The youth channel (NEO).....has been a fair failure, with some reports indicating around 50,000 viewers a day total out of eighty million residents.  The culture channel features mostly 1970s and 1980s shows, and draws virtually zero viewers under the age of thirty.

The problem which you can see coming is that a growing audience is simply not using any of the state-run TV options.  It might take another decade but you can sense that a major political topic will eventually erupt and some thirty-percent cut on the TV tax will occur to make the crowd happy.  Three or four channels will disappear.  Maybe a decade later....another cut and things might start to make sense.

The board's comments are correct.....there ought to be some connection to the tax paid, and the consumer ought to have some way of forcing change upon the state-run TV crowd.  Currently....there is no such connection.

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