The GEZ is the abreviation for the GebÃ¼hreneinzugszentrale
. It is the processing center for German TV and radio licenses. Literally translated it means "charge collection central". The GEZ are located in Cologne
Anyone owning a television, PC or radio (including a car radio) is required to pay a license fee. The monthly fee (as of 2008) is â‚¬5.52 for one or more radios and "neuartige EmpfangsgerÃ¤te" (PCs and laptops) or â‚¬17.03 for one or more televisions and/or radios. Households may be charged additional fees for receivers owned by children or other flatmates of legal age with an own income.
Any receiver on company property has to be registered and paid for as well (separately), a car radio in a car that is used both for business (self-employed) and privately requires a double registration. As of August '09, company PC are exempt of the fee if they are used for work only.
These fees are used to fund regional broadcasting such as the Bayerischer Rundfunk and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg and national broadcasters such as ARD (Das Erste) and ZDF. The annual revenue is roughly â‚¬7.6 billion.
The fees are unpopular among expats and citizens alike, who feel they are excessively expensive and unjust. In Europe, only Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries charge more. This feeling is heightened when one considers the quality of many of the resulting broadcasts and the fact the broadcasts generally still have commercials. For many, the bitterest pill to swallow is the additional 55 cents one must spend on a stamp when eventually replying to one of their frequent demands.
For a country that generally closely follows the rules, avoidance of the license fee is higher than one might expect. License inspectors (in the employ of the GEZ, never the broadcasters themselves) have no legal right of access to your property, although they may claim otherwise. Nonetheless, the license is a legal requirement and avoidance can prove costly, since the GEZ will backcharge liberally unless given a proof that you couldn't receive their programme.
Changes in 2013
From 2013 every household will pay a fixed monthly rate of 17.98 â‚¬. Having a TV, radio, internet or similar device will no longer be relevant. As every household must pay then it's be difficult to avoid/evade. For most people who currently have a device and pay, there is no difference in the charges. Households on low incomes or students will, as before pay nothing. Disabled people will pay a reduced fee. Companies will pay according to the number of employees.
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