TV license fees in Germany - Rundfunkbeitrag, formerly known as GEZ

1,789 posts in this topic

 

Regressive to its very core. Those who benefit from the funding obviously just care about themselves or they would come up with either a more progressive manner of assessment or would make ARD and ZDF pay TV for those who want it.

 

Yes. The GEZ is particularly unfair, but flat-fee TV licenses are inherently regressive. In the UK, why should Wayne Rooney pay the same to watch TV as a struggling family? In fact, if said family pays by direct debit, it costs them more! Since the BBC license fee has an opt-out it's obviously fairer than the GEZ, because people without TV or without the money can choose not to watch and pay. But as I said above, I can't see it as a reasonable (or likely) expectation that all poor people give up the box completely.So you still have the fundamental injustice, no matter how you revise GEZ (or improve German TV, for those who see that as the main problem). Eileen's low-income earners (above the bare minimum) are still paying disproportionately.

 

If you want something seriously progressive, you either need to pay for TV as part of general tax revenue, or make GEZ/BBC license fees flexible as to opt-outs and adjusted for income. So the GEZ flaws are uniquely German, but the regressive concept isn't. I wonder if there's a divide here between those who grew up paying for TV and those who didn't? (I also think there are fairly substantial differences in government-funded models between the US and, say, Australia. PBS and ABC Australia are rather different animals.)

 

 

and with regard to this 'public good' argument... Why isn't everyone forced to pay for library membership then? Aren't libraries something that is for the 'public good'? Learning resources, newspapers, magazines, CD ROMs for learning languages, DVDs - films for educational and entertainment purposes, audio books, music CDs, sheet music, ...oh, and even books. Oh, and board games even! Library membership in the UK is free of charge (as is having a dog [no licence any more] and listening to the radio). In Germany, I now pay EUR 16 a year (used to be 10 euros) for membership of the German library system. Why doesn't every person over 18 pay towards libraries? If the argument is that people could watch TV because TV is generally available, then how about paying for libraries as libraries are also generally available.

 

Given the rate of library closure in the UK, I don't think free membership is necessary a panacea, alas. And there are social pressures against education and library use which often have nothing to do with access. I wouldn't actually be against a library tax (I owe them a lot), except that it's impractical to levy too many additional charges. I also suspect that any political campaign in favour of libraries that was also against television would not be well received by those it was intended to help. People don't like to feel they're being patronised, whether they actually are or not. More broadly, my guess would be that if you surveyed people, more would sacrifice their local library than their television. (Particularly if you surveyed them during a major football tournament!) Lots of people think like Hazza, except they're not being sarcastic. Couple that with the not-uncommon attitude that public broadcasting is a public good for everyone (national unity, democracy), while libraries are a public good mainly for the poor (everyone else can buy books and DVDs and has the internet in a nice warm home), and libraries have a problem.

 

---

 

As the GEZ currently stands, it's ridiculous. As a number of the posts in this thread show, the availability argument is flaky, and I don't see why people without a TV should have to pay. But we seem to be a bit short on alternatives! Since I don't think this is likely to be an election issue in the foreseeable, and not everyone affected can even vote, I suppose the only option for those objecting strongly is not to pay, wait and see if it goes to court, and make an argument there - all the way to Luxembourg, if necessary. Of course, this is only possible for those strong objectors with patience and deep pockets.

 

Personally, I see the GEZ as one of the annoyances of life in Germany alongside the weather and the relative absence of good cheddar and spicy food. If I'm going to go to the barricades (or to court), I'd rather it be over something where the impact of inequality is more serious, and where change is likely to lead to social improvement for more than a few people. GEZ isn't this sort of issue for me. And honestly, I enjoy TV enough that the *general* problem of regressive TV licenses doesn't make me jump up and down either, even if this is politically inconsistent.

 

(Ironically, this means that I end up appearing to support something I'm actually not in favour of in its current form. Oh well. I'm enjoying the argument.)

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yay, GEZ mandatory, so this means German TV will improve to BBC standards of entertainment? Right? :lol:

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nicely argued, Flavia (post 200)

 

I would still appreciate an opt-out option, though. I resent paying for something I don't use or like or want.

 

When I feel frazzled at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is trawl through 30 plus stations trying to find something I either haven't watched on British TV already or would not make me rabid (I shout at the TV - too many stupid people). When I'm on holiday and there is a TV in the room, I try to find something to watch. I honestly do. I usually fail. I might last for 30 minutes on Arte - wildlife documentary for example. But it bores me. Sitting doing nothing.

 

When I feel mentally fried, I go to the gym or swimming or ice-skating or something. I go out, let my body do its thing and let my mind wander. I pay for my gym membership. I pay for going to the ice-rink or to the pool. I pay because I use them. I don't use TV.

 

(P.S. As for my music tastes... I could cope if the cut-off were 1960 or 65. I listen to old-time jazz on Swing FM (Le Hot Club de Jazz de Limoges) in France, sometimes to the Composer of the Week on BBC Radio 3 - that's how I discovered Albinoni, one of my favourites), or to Radio 2 for music from the 60s, old show tunes and stuff.)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I'll have to go sign up, before they catch me a year or two down the road, and I wind up having to pay back a big bill, rather than the "small" monthly fee.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Given the rate of library closure in the UK, I don't think free membership is necessary a panacea, alas. And there are social pressures against education and library use which often have nothing to do with access. I wouldn't actually be against a library tax (I owe them a lot), except that it's impractical to levy too many additional charges. I also suspect that any political campaign in favour of libraries that was also against television would not be well received by those it was intended to help. People don't like to feel they're being patronised, whether they actually are or not. More broadly, my guess would be that if you surveyed people, more would sacrifice their local library than their television. (Particularly if you surveyed them during a major football tournament!) Lots of people think like Hazza, except they're not being sarcastic. Couple that with the not-uncommon attitude that public broadcasting is a public good for everyone (national unity, democracy), while libraries are a public good mainly for the poor (everyone else can buy books and DVDs and has the internet in a nice warm home), and libraries have a problem."

 

Eh?

 

1. I didn't say that one has to have free membership for libraries. Just that since some people in Germany use them and pay for membership, why not make the membership fees compulsory for all - just as with the TV licence?

 

2. There are social pressures AGAINST libraries and library use? What?

 

3. I didn't say that libraries should be supported and TV suppressed. What I was trying to say was that if one can opt in to paying for library membership, the same should be true of the TV licence.

 

4. TV = national unity, democracy? Really? Ye gods.

 

5. Public good for the poor - everyone else can buy books?? Have you seen the queues of people in the libraries? From schoolchildren to pensioners. From poor to the comfortably off.

 

I'm not poor, but with a four book a week habit and limited available shelf space, I can't afford to buy books and/or DVDs.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Nina - you'll burst a blood vessel if you keep on like this...

 

Don't worry HEM. I'm calm. Listening to a good drama on Radio 4, doing embroidery and having a cuppa tea and planning to go to the gym in an hour or two.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1. I didn't say that one has to have free membership for libraries. Just that since some people in Germany use them and pay for membership, why not make the membership fees compulsory for all - just as with the TV licence?

 

OK, I misunderstood the first part of your point. As for the second, it's perfectly logical given the GEZ as stands is based on the theoretical capacity to receive TV even if one isn't doing it. (Which I agree is stupid.) It's just that I doubt there'd be public support for a library tax. (Regrettably.)

 

 

2. There are social pressures AGAINST libraries and library use? What?

 

Social in the sense of coming from the state, of course not. But professionally I've had a certain amount to do with schools and education, and the peer pressure in some circumstances against accessing knowledge and libraries is pretty horrible. As is the lack of support from lots of families. Not that one should give up, but the barriers are real.

 

And from the other side, I've heard some fairly loud arguments (reported by in frustration by multiple librarians and teachers of my acquaintance and in my family) for the increasing irrelevance of libraries. Mostly due to the rise of the internet, but there's apparently a not negligible group who think libraries have made themselves irrelevant by turning themselves into centres for accessing modern technology, DVDs and board games and abandoning or sidelining many books. And when remaining book stocks are best-seller focused, and people still aren't coming (even if that's why the people aren't coming), then it's clearly a service that has outlived its usefulness and should be on the chopping block when cash is tight. I find this hard to believe, but that's what I've been told.

 

 

3. I didn't say that libraries should be supported and TV suppressed. What I was trying to say was that if one can opt in to paying for library membership, the same should be true of the TV licence.

 

Sorry, the problem was with my argument. I just have a nasty feeling that an attempt to introduce something like this could will be perceived as an attack on TV or on people's habits, and that never goes well. (I may be too cynical here. Or I've been through one failed campaign to save a library/university department/music group too many.)

 

 

4. TV = national unity, democracy? Really? Ye gods.

 

Not my arguments! I promise! Or at least, not entirely. But it's a fairly standard trope in discourses about nationalism that public broadcasting (including newspapers) contribute to the development of a shared sense of identity. (Linked to that point you made a few pages back about how British people have a shared knowledge of Dr Who etc.)

 

Democracy is a much trickier position to defend, since you obviously need a variety of media perspectives to get this to work, and TV licenses doesn't automatically encourage this. (As much a problem in Britain as Germany, incidentally.) And of course, there's no shortage of states where one-party media is a major problem. However, I've seen the argument made more then once that in western societies, the media is too important to be left entirely to the market (RTL-led journalism, what a joy!), so you need public broadcasting for balance.

 

 

5. Public good for the poor - everyone else can buy books?? Have you seen the queues of people in the libraries? From schoolchildren to pensioners. From poor to the comfortably off.I'm not poor, but with a four book a week habit and limited available shelf space, I can't afford to buy books and/or DVDs.

 

Again, not my argument. But there are a lot of people out there who believe that libraries (apart from specialist ones) are only for people who can't afford to buy their own books. (I used to debate quite seriously at university, among other things, and debating is frequently dominated by law students with political views which make David Cameron look like Marx.) I *know* this is crazy. I see the queues, and I certainly have neither the budget nor the space to support my own reading habit. Yet people seriously think this. Or, even worse, that the worse-off won't be reading anyway!

 

--

 

Sorry for the confusion, Nina - I was trying to summarise the entire range of positions rather than just my own, and the ideas got a bit mangled along the way. (Thanks for pointing that out. I strongly suspect we'd agree on a fair bit if we discussed this in person!)

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have paid the GEZ for a while now. We just received our 3 month bill for 53,94 from ARD-2DF-Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice which I am assuming has taken over from GEZ. We are moving at the end of this month into a new apartment. Should we pay just one month now and send a letter to the new service explaining why? I don't want to pay three months and then arrive in our new apartment on 1 Feb and get another bill. Have others received their bills this week? Thanks very much :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most people pay by direct debit, but if you move it's pretty straightforward - you will simply complete an "Ummeldung" which will simply transfer your account and any credit in it to the new addess so you don't lose out.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We'll just have to come up with something new, then.

 

I'll start with the "beipolars". Any other suggestions?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you think any of us could use the GEZ contribution to stop German TV broadcasting anywhere we might be watching?

 

When I was in hospital a couple of years ago, I had the misfortune of sharing a room with a succession of old ladies who couldn't live without their daytime TV. The bane of my existence was some soapie set in a Bavarian hotel, where the cheapskate producers had clearly decided to skimp on extras. It meant this big hotel never had any guests. Not in the guest rooms, not in the dining room. It was like a ghost hotel staffed by morons.

 

Then there was the terrible Wife Swap. I love Wife Swap, I really do. I love the way they get a women from different socioeconomic backgrounds and swap them, leaving two families gobsmacked at the strange ways of the other half, even if it's all a pretence.

 

The German wife swap? They tended to get good housewives and swap them with bad housewives, so the bad housewives could be bullied into ironing better, or cooking more, or going on Wanderntags.

 

I would have paid money not to have suffered through that.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Now... one thing that would be really good is to do what they had in South Africa (don't know if they still have it).

 

It was called Simulcasting. If you switched the TV on for certain programmes (like foreign ones) you could hear it in one language on TV. If you wanted a different language, you turned the volume on the TV down and put a certain radio channel on. OK.. so the sound came from another directioin, but I saw this in 1988. 24 years later, something more sophisticated must be possible.

 

Gosh we used to do that as kids watching the cricket. We'd watch it on telly but the commentary was always so much better on the radio. Didn't know there was a name for it!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You see.. this is what you can do if you don't bother with TV

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2259561/The-71-year-old-Gateshead-discovered-new-planet--scientists-say-help-alien-life.html

 

His years of seaching the skies have paid off after he discovered the planet - now named by astronomers as 'PH2 b'.

 

Mr Jackson said: 'There is nothing worth watching on the television and there's only so much gardening you can do and you have to have other things to fill your time in.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep thinking what I can do with EUR 215 a year. The early-morning swimming session costs EUR 3.60. That's one swim a week.

 

Going to the cinema (just been to see Jack Reacher for EUR 8.50) - that's a visit every other week or so.

 

Going out locally with the Wandergruppe (and travelling on someone else's card) - that's 143 guided walks.

 

Libary membership costs between EUR 10 and EUR 16 (and for EUR 16 you can take out as many DVDs or music CDs as you like). That's more than 13 years' membership at the higher rate.

 

That's 39 portions of red Thai curry with tofu and rice at TransAsia in KarschHaus.

 

That is 21 Terry Pratchett books (the last one I bought [snuff] cost EUR 9.99).

 

It pains me just as much as it does ajay to squander money on stuff I do not need, use or want.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now