Over 100,000 sign petition against Germany’s broadcasting fee in a matter of days

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)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

A petition calling for the abolition of broadcasting fees and a fundamental reform of German public broadcasting has acquired 100,000 signatories in just a few days, the German news outlet, Junge Freiheit, who launched the petition has revealed.

Junge Freihert editor-in-chief Dieter Stein announced the milestone had been reached by noon on Tuesday, just five days since it was launched on Thursday of last week, and expressed his enthusiasm for the rapid pace at which the petition had progressed.

“100,000 signatures within a few days? Insanity! There is just a huge outrage about the public broadcasters. Especially now in times of crisis, when every normal citizen has to save, no one understands why ARD and ZDF are so generous with license fees. What knocks the bottom out is the outrageous political one-sidedness of the broadcasters. Basically, the €8.4 billion of the ÖRR could also be transferred to the election campaign coffers of the Greens and SPD,” Stein wrote.

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The petition itself targets state governments responsible for the broadcasters, and all politicians from the parties represented in parliament. It insists on compulsory broadcasting fees being abolished and calls for “a new and simplified financing model” to take its place.

In addition, the massive budget of broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, should be reduced to a minimum, and the petition demands a “democratization of public service reporting and fair, non-ideological journalism that finally takes into account all social groups and parties, and puts an end to the left-green-red indoctrination.”

It explains that, according to a survey by the INSA Institute, 84 percent of Germans now demand the abolition of broadcasting fees and “no longer want to pay for the most expensive broadcasting system in the world.”

The issue has taken on special importance in recent times. For one, major corruption scandals are coming to light, including nepotism, which has led to the resignation of ARD Chairwoman and RBB Director Patricia Schlesinger. Schlesinger has been fingered in a corruption scandal in which prosecutors say she secured a lucrative job for her husband and billed taxpayers for her expensive taste in office furniture. There are also suspicions that she left taxpayers on the hook for a luxurious trip to London during her tenure at ARD and RBB. In response, the party leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Fredriech Merz, has called for radical reform of the German public broadcasting fee system.

It is understood that when the petition expires on the last day in August, the data including the names of all signatories will be sent to state governments and parliamentary groups to help propel the campaign forward.

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