The contribution to public broadcasting makes for heated discussions: Once ZDF-Intendant Thomas Bellut had declared an increase to be necessary in order to keep the level of quality, threatens the ARD Chairman Ulrich Wilhelm with a constitutional challenge if the Federal States could not agree on the amount.

In an Interview with the German press Agency (dpa), described by Wilhelm, the clarification of the Federal constitutional court in Karlsruhe as the “Ultima Ratio”. “This would, of course, mean a year-long impasse. At this time, no order could be worked, in accordance with.”

The broadcasting fee, the licence fee was called until the end of 2012, is set to 2020 at € 17.50 per household per month. In the spring of 2019, the public broadcaster must notify the Commission to determine the financial needs of broadcasters (KEF), how much money you need for 2021 to 2024. The KEF makes a proposal for the contribution amount. The subsequent decision of the Prime Minister must be ratified by all 16 land days.

index model as an Alternative

As an Alternative to this method, an index model is in the conversation, after which the licence fee increases by the rate of inflation. This could be “at the end of a viable way,” said Wilhelm.

The Index does not cover, however, the actual increases in costs, but would be for ARD and ZDF “steady shrinkage”. Because: “The radio-specific inflation, which takes into account, for example, the development of the costs for music, Film or sports rights, was between 2009 and 2017 at around 17 percent, while consumer prices increased in this period by 10.6 percent.”

From some countries has been collected in the past few months, the requirement to hold a licence fee, to be stable, to increase. Then would be clearly in the programme were to be cut, said Wilhelm. What was not possible to take whole areas, such as entertainment and sports from the program order.

Broad spectrum

“That would be so from our point of view, with the freedom to broadcast is not compatible. Especially since there is no clear-cut demarcation of the genre.” TV series such as “Charité” and “Babylon Berlin” will be the entertainment, but also education and Information. The Sport consists not only of football, but also from the Paralympics, young sports, and the width of the winter sports.

The current height of the radio contribution of 17,50 Euro corresponds to the information of the ARD-Chairman and Director of the Bayerischer Rundfunk Wilhelm is no longer the real effort. “Today we use the additional funds to the Contribution reserve, between 2013 and 2016. It is expected these funds to divisions based on the amount of the monthly contribution, then we are already in real 18,35 Euro.” This reserve will be depleted by 2020.

Already in the middle of the year, the licence fee had occupied the Federal constitutional court. At the time, it was a question of the legality. The court confirmed that the contribution, by and Large, the Constitution is compliant. In mid-December, the European court of justice, that the contribution of the EU to be compliant, and no illegal state aid was ruled.


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.