Sunday, March 30, 2014

TV Tax In Germany

"No one asked us... Away with the TV Tax Dictators"
When I returned to Berlin a few weeks ago, I discovered a letter from the television tax authorities in the mailbox. I knew the letter was coming, but I was hoping it would come later rather than sooner. In Germany, households are required to pay a flat monthly tax (17,98 euro [$24 USD]) for all electronic devices (TV, radio, computer, or tablet) in the house. Whether you watch TV, listen to the radio, or have an Internet connection, you pay the tax! This amount is in addition to the cable or satellite service fee you may also have. 

Technically, this not a tax but a mandatory license fee (a distinction without a difference), and it's how public broadcasting (ARD, ZDF, RBB, Deutschlandradio, etc.) is funded. To add insult to injury, the public networks also receive revenue from advertising, although advertising can only appear in 5 or 10 minute blocks, and only before or after a program.

Germany also has commercial TV (VOX, RTL, Kabel 1, etc.) where advertising is as bad or even worse than in the U.S. Most of the American shows that are broadcast in Germany are found on these stations. For example, you can watch Married With Children, The Prince of Bel-Air, or CSI Miami. These shows aren't my cup of tea, but they are available and not supported by the TV tax. 

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