80% of Germans object to current public broadcasting license fee

As many as 35 percent of respondents to a recent survey called for the fee to be abolished

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Thomas Brooke
FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 22, 2020 file photo, the "Capital Studio" of the public service braodcaster ARD (working pool of the broadcasting corporations of the Federal Republic of Germany) is pictured in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Four in five Germans believe the current public broadcasting license fee is too high and a sizeable contingent want the fee scrapped altogether, a recent survey has revealed.

According to polling conducted by the Insa institute for the Bild newspaper, just 7 percent of respondents are happy to continue to pay the current license fee of €18.36 per month to support public broadcasters such as ARD and ZDF.

In a range of price options suggested to respondents, 13 percent said they would pay up to €4.99 per month, 16 percent up to €9.99, 10 percent would pay a maximum of €14.99 euros, and a further 6 percent would be willing to pay up to €18.35.

The largest bracket was in favor of scrapping the license fee altogether which 35 percent of respondents opted for.

The study reveals the extent to which Germans have grown disillusioned with traditional broadcasting, despite recent reports in German media suggesting the license fee could actually increase to €20 a year from 2025.

“Citizens are not satisfied with the public broadcasters, especially when the majority of the population is to be re-educated in terms of language or the reporting is becoming too one-sided,” Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Julia Klöckner told Bild.

The accusation of political bias is not unfounded and recent research undertaken by the Junge Freiheit news outlet showed the extent to which the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is widely shunned by public broadcasters.

Despite polling at 16 percent, and both the ARD and ZDF networks being legally required to welcome political representatives from all parties to reflect German society, of the 137 appearances by politicians on shows produced by the broadcasters from January to March, the AfD was not represented once.

“This targeted and continued boycott of the second-strongest opposition party in Germany by the public broadcasters, which are committed to political neutrality and balance, is outrageous,” said AfD leader Alice Weidel.

A similar debate on the future of public broadcasting is ongoing in Britain, with many politicians and members of the public questioning its long-term future over allegations of political bias.

The BBC, which has recently come under fire for giving a platform to banished jihadi bride Shamima Begum with a 10-part podcast, was then heavily criticized over its handling of the Gary Lineker saga, a prominent former English footballer-turned-presenter who was stood down after comparing the language of the Conservative government’s proposed immigration policy to that used in 1930’s Germany, comments which many insisted had breached the BBC’s impartiality rules.

After initially suspending Lineker, the corporation walked back on its position and issued a groveling apology for the whole mess and reinstated the broadcaster who refused to apologize for his remarks, angering many already skeptical of the state broadcaster.

“The issue is that the BBC is the state broadcaster and that it’s funded by a tax on televisions. If it weren’t, then we wouldn’t need to worry about its impartiality, and actually, if we changed the funding mechanism of the BBC, we could have a much freer media, as they do in the United States, where people are allowed to say what they think,” Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said in the aftermath of the scandal.

Like Britain, Germany has one of the most expensive public broadcasting services in the world, consuming €8 billion in taxpayers’ money each year. A petition launched last year received almost 200,000 signatures in favor of scrapping the license fee altogether, and any proposed rise in the payment is likely to further fuel calls for its abolition.

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