A real @!$%# -storm has been raging in Germany's media landscapes, esp. newspapers and social networks, over publicly perceived rip-off by a new financing scheme that obliges any household to pay a uniform "contribution" of some monthly 18 euros ($24) for the possibility to receive public TV and radio signals.
Germany's public TV and radio stations have been financed by broadcasting fees under the auspices of all federal states since the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany's "supreme court", ruled in February 1961 that only the states and not the federal government are in charge of broadcasting issues. By that ruling, a federal government's grip on public TV- and radio-channels has been blocked and deemed unconstitutional.
Since the founding of 2nd German TV-Channel ("ZDF") fee-based contributions are regulated by a now 16 German state-treaty framework. Any changes have to be unanimously agreed on, such as extension of program channels or, more importantly, raising fees for financing a vast network of currently 23 national and regional TV channels as well as a significant number in the double digits of public radio stations, managed by Germany's 1st channel "ARD" related regional public broadcasting corporations.
At stake is an annual volume in the range of 7.5 billion euros ($10 billion) for distribution to ARD, ZDF, Deutschlandradio.
Before changing the paying system for anyone having a TV-set, radio or new technology gadgets (able to receive TV / radio signals), individuals have been held liable in private households. Payments were based on the device ready for receiving the 'public' signals of ARD/ZDF. Dependent kids had to pay fees for radio or TV when they had a certain income. People who only had radios paid significantly less (€6) than people with TV sets or new technology gadgets (€18). The 16-state agreement introducing a "uniform household contribution" by Jan. 1st, 2013 is seen as an unjustified compulsory levy, as unconstitutional, thus unlawful.
Corporations, too, are facing huge increases for the licensing fees by this new financing scheme. A German drugstore chain, named "Rossmann", complained about the raise of 400 percent, now an annual levy of 200.000 euros instead of some €40.000 in 2012. The company will be one of the first to go to the courts.
Who is exempted from this legalized money "confiscation"?
The blind people? Nope - they can hear - thus, they pay for receiving audible public broadcasting signals, at least at a reduced rate.
The mute people? Nope - they can see - thus , they pay for receiving visible public broadcasting signals, at least at a reduced rate.
Only being blind-mute people are totally exempted, makes sense, huh?
Exempted from paying the fee are poor people/households receiving welfare benefits or long-term unemployment benefits ("Hartz IV-recepients"), students receiving state study subsidy (BAFöG) don't need to pay a penny. too.
But, this one-size fits all approach is what pisses all the others off.
The tendency for living in one-person households has been increasing for decades. So, the new creation of a uniform household contribution seems to be the political logic for this "adjustment".
The vast majority of politicians of any party color, across the political aisle, praise this new scheme as democratic and justified, denying and/or rejecting the @!$%#-storm they introduced.
You have to bear in mind this insanity, IMO - as German resident, you now pay a fee for your household. The electromagnetive waves for public broadcasting can penetrate your private walls without your consent even if you don't have a device for receiving those signals - but you will be held liable for paying the 'public' signal intrusion.