For the time being no increase in the license fee: Constitutional Court rejects urgent motions – media – society


The Federal Constitutional Court rejected the urgent requests by the directors of ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio against the blockade of Saxony-Anhalt against the state treaty amending the media.
Reiner Haseloff, the Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt, had withdrawn the proposal for the amendment to the new State Broadcasting Treaty. In doing so, he prevented a vote on it in the Magdeburg state parliament, in which ratification with the votes of the CDU and AfD could have been rejected. Ea had given massive criticism against a common line of the two parties to the planned increase of the license fee by 86 cents to 18.36 euros.

However, no decision has yet been made on the constitutional complaints of the public broadcasters. The Federal Constitutional Court writes in support of the rejection that the constitutional complaints are “neither obviously inadmissible nor obviously unfounded”. The court refers to the previous case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, according to which a violation of the freedom of broadcasting protected by the Basic Law is at least possible.

Applications not adequately presented

In the judges’ view, however, the complainants did not demonstrate in a comprehensible manner that they would suffer serious disadvantages by waiting until the constitutional complaint proceedings were concluded. The broadcasters did not explain in more detail that “an unconstitutional delay in the entry into force of the amendment to the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty would irreversibly lead to serious disadvantages”.
All 16 state parliaments must approve the amendment to the State Broadcasting Treaty and the increase in the broadcasting fee. Since this did not take place and the urgent applications from Karlsruhe were rejected, the amendment and thus also the premium increase cannot take effect on January 1, 2021.

The First Senate also refused to temporarily override the sunset clause in the amending treaty. It stipulates that the treaty will become null and void if all the ratification documents are not there by the end of the year. The broadcasters had not submitted why the clause should stand in the way of a later increase in the contribution.

Different reactions from ARD and ZDF

In a first reaction after the Karlsruhe decision, ZDF director Thomas Bellut wrote: “ZDF has taken note of the urgent decision of the Federal Constitutional Court and is waiting for the main part of the proceedings previous case law is possible. ”

The ARD chairman Tom Buhrow also spoke up in the evening: “We now have to adjust our financial planning. Failure to adjust the premiums will require serious measures that you will see and hear in the program, ”he told dpa. One will now advise together.

The chairman of the German Association of Journalists, Frank Überall, hopes that the Federal Constitutional Court will quickly come to a verdict: “Without the higher contribution, public broadcasting is threatened with losses in the program, which the listeners and viewers would also notice.”

“East Germany insufficiently represented”

The CDU of Saxony-Anhalt had justified its opposition to the increase in the contribution, among other things, with the fact that the East German states were not on an equal footing with the West, neither with regard to the communal facilities of the broadcasters nor in the direction of the program. The broadcasters, however, point out that the decision to adapt the contribution must not be linked to questions of content.
The Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt Reiner Haseloff had refilled again on Tuesday. “ARD and ZDF have stayed in many branches of western television,” he said to the “world”. In addition, the CDU politician criticized the appearance of ARD chairman Tom Buhrow in the dispute over the increase in the radio license fee.
The license fee is currently 17.50 euros. An independent commission, the KEF, had determined the additional requirement of 86 cents per month. It would be the first increase since 2009. It is intended to fill a financial gap of 1.5 billion euros in the fee period from 2021 to 2024. The broadcasting fee, which has no longer been charged as a device-dependent fee since 2013, but per apartment, is the main source of income for the public broadcasters.

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