BERLIN — Germany’s radio and television commission on Monday recommended a TV license fee hike of 86 euro cents ($1.05), well under the $1.34 monthly increase pubcasters were demanding.
The proposal by the six-member government commission — which the heads of Germany’s 16 federal states will vote on next month — will raise license fees paid by households from $19.80 to about $20.85 a month. At the present rate, ARD and ZDF rake in $8 billion a year, making them the world’s richest pubcasters.
The pubcasters, which have long enjoyed strong financial backing here, are under immense political and financial pressure to keep costs down, as the economy continues to sag and unemployment reaches record heights.
Nevertheless, ARD topper Jobst Plog called the proposal “extremely problematic.” The pubcasters said they would review the recommendations, which include cutting 255 jobs at ARD and 300 at ZDF, limiting online and marketing costs and selling up to $120 million worth of sports rights to commercial rivals.
Plog rejected the sale of sports rights, saying the demands interfered with their autonomy.
ARD and ZDF could go to court to make a case for more funding: The country’s basic law demands that independent pubcasters be adequately financed.
However, that could take years, and the European Union Commission is already investigating whether pubcaster financing in Germany could be construed as an illegal subsidy hindering fair competition in the TV market.
The pubcasters wanted an increase by January, but the proposal postpones a hike until April.