If you walk into a German pub and utter the phrase Rundfunkbeitrag, there will be the start of a long conversation from the group assembled about the German TV, radio and media tax....mandated upon every single German.....to the tune of 17.50 Euro per month.
It won't be a pleasant conversation. The majority are a bit frustrated over the tax. The younger the crowd, the more unpleasant the conversation will be.
Because of the direction of internet media and downloading.....the government decided in early 2013, that all household would pay 17.50.....even if they didn't have a radio, and even if their only means of television was the internet....which they would say that they were using commercial sites to watch TV...NOT state-run TV networks.
To help the case, the big guys....ARD and ZDF (the channel One and Two crowd) went to maximize their media efforts. You could get their news programs, documentaries, and movies from their web sites. To date, I've yet to hear anyone give statistics over downloading from the state-run TV empire and I suspect that it's a very small group who utilize this service.
The fight to keep mandated TV taxes in place? Well....it's mostly about a TV product that Germans over the age of forty will watch. Most people under the age of twenty-five will tell you that there's absolutely nothing of quality, and in an entire year.....they might watch three to five hours of news or weather. The value for the 17.50 Euro a month? Yeah, that's part of the story.
Well....twenty-six complaints were lodged about this broadcasting fee and it's made a path to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. Fourteen arguments were presented. today. The court is put into a delicate position. They could sit there and say that without a real TV or radio in the house, and only a media connection.....a person should not be forced into a mandated TV tax.
For ARD, ZDF and the radio folks.....it's a pretty serious argument, and they may lost a significant amount of their funding if this works in court.
My humble guess? The judges have to find some gimmick to force the public to continue on with the 17.50 Euro per month.
The Zeit did a fine article over this discussion, and the general facts of the case.
One of the harsh realities in modern Germany is that radio is losing listeners. The crowd who transit into work each day by car....might still listen onto the local station for stau or accident reports. Those on public transport.....lean more toward a collection of tunes that they listen to. Some of these smaller stations....like campus stations....might have a total of a thousand listeners on a normal day.
From the collection of twenty-odd TV networks now sponsored and operated via this TV tax.....some might be unlucky enough from the 81-million residents to have only ten-thousand people viewing throughout a single evening.
My guess is that a couple of the judges will sit down and try to figure a nice way to just tell Germans to be brave and understanding....that someone needs to pay for public TV....even if the majority of Germans don't watch it.