Saxony-Anhalt is pulling the tightrope and blocking a higher temp pay in Germany. The public broadcasters want to sue. What does this mess mean for the wallet of the citizen?

Radio license debates are suitable for Twitter shit storms, roundtables, and even coalition crises. Everyone has an opinion based on their gut feeling – like the national soccer team. Most households in Germany will be directly affected: from January 1, 2021, according to the original plan of the federal states, they would have to pay 86 cents more broadcasting costs per month to close the expected financial gaps for ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio of 1.5 billion euros. decks cram the next four years.

So is 18.36 euros buried?

In that case, EUR 18.36 instead of EUR 17.50 will be debited from the bank account. Many thought that this dusty-looking administrative act of increasing the radio license amount would go without a hitch. But they were all wrong: the government of Saxony-Anhalt pulled the plug out of the socket for the time being after a huge fight.

Whether and if so when the 86 cents will come cannot be predicted at this point. Several paths blow out at the same time. From now on, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe will be the highest court in Germany to hear the case. On Tuesday the public broadcasters ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio announced that they wanted to leave Saxony-Anhalt because of the blockade. go to the Federal Constitutional Court.

Do countries also complain?

In a statement before the state parliament in Magdeburg, lawyer Bernd Holznagel of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster initiated an urgent procedure in Karlsruhe some time ago in addition to the possibility of a lawsuit by the public broadcasters in the main proceedings. If successful, the contribution may be increased – at least temporarily – on January 1, until the whole case in the main proceedings has been resolved.

The argument: It is deduced from the basic law with the freedom of broadcasting that there is a need for funding for the public broadcaster. From the station’s point of view, however, that would no longer be safe without 18.36 euros.

Whether not only broadcasters but also countries can or will complain has also been part of the discussion in recent weeks. There are no clear official signals yet.

Ask for more reforms and savings potential

The black-red-green coalition in Saxony-Anhalt presented a dispute of more than 86 cents on the surface, but it actually showed how bitter the mood was among the government partners. The CDU faction anchored itself at all costs, pushing for more reforms and austerity potential in the public broadcaster, which many others in Germany also want.

But that’s not what the current vote is about. Because the federal states themselves determine in advance what the public broadcaster should do and the order to be financed will be determined on that basis. The current state treaty deals with this aspect of the premium amount.

Majority is not enough

Ultimately, the CDU and AfD would have been swept off the table in the state parliament in a majority of the premium increases that all other countries have agreed or intend to make this month. Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) wanted to avoid the photos – and on Tuesday withdrew the state treaty from the state parliament. He also wanted to prevent the coalition from falling apart. The SPD and the Greens are against the CDU for 18.36 euros.

A majority is not enough: the current state treaty, including premium increases, is unlikely to enter into force. Because all states without exception should ratify it in state parliaments at the end of December. 15 yes votes are not enough – if only one country says no, the long-negotiated contract is void and will not go into effect. The state treaty can be practically destroyed and would have to be renegotiated.

Improvement for small broadcasters

Resentment against public law is felt time and again in the debates and on demos, and there are also two bitter camps on the Internet. The whole debate about 86 cents and 1.5 billion euros between 2021 and 2024 could be a trigger to fundamentally reflect on the process of how the radio license should be established in the future.

An idea from recent years: with the instrument of an index, which could automatically move the amount of the premium, for example on the basis of consumer prices or inflation. So far, the decision on the license fee has been a very long chain of recommendation by an independent commission (KEF) on the decision of all prime ministers, followed by all state parliaments.

Small broadcasters such as Radio Bremen and Saarländischer Rundfunk will now follow every step very closely, because the State Treaty would have brought them a further improvement: the financially strong ARD broadcasters support the two broadcasters with less well-funded resources. As with a financial equalization of the state, this also works within the ARD. Their share would have increased slightly and would have given the two channels more financial scope. Recently, the Saarland Broadcasting Corporation board of directors spoke of an “existentially threatening” situation if the contract were not to take effect.

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