The public service system is shaken by scandals. But the fee income is bubbling up like never before. At the same time, more and more people are being asked to pay. One consequence: millions of citizens experience a system of millions of reminders and enforcements.

Compulsory fees for the public service media are reaching new records. The annual report of the contribution service of ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio shows that the Germans paid a record sum of 8.4 billion euros (exactly: 8,422,080,636.04 euros) with their broadcasting contributions last year. That is 311 million euros more than in 2020. Total income has increased by 3.84 percent compared to the previous year.

The main reason for the increase in income is the increase in the broadcasting fee to EUR 18.36 per month on August 1, 2021. For the current year 2022, the industry experts expect an even higher record amount – despite the war and economic crisis. The total income is distributed with 6.06 billion on the ARD and 2.12 billion on the ZDF. Deutschlandfunk accounts for 243 million.

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The contribution service does not only benefit from the record income from the fee increase. It is also getting more and more severe in the wallets of citizens and companies. In the meantime, 39.7 million apartments have been registered with the contribution service. The number of business premises that now also have to pay the compulsory fees is constantly growing. After an increase of 2.2 percent in 2020, there will be another 1.6 percent more in 2021. A total of 4.1 million business premises were registered.

And the obligation to pay fees is also becoming more and more important for cars. In the meantime, 4.5 million motor vehicles have been registered, because in Germany a third of the monthly fee of 6.12 euros has to be paid for every vehicle that is not exclusively used privately. Only one motor vehicle is exempt from the contribution per business location that is subject to the contribution.

While more and more companies have to pay, the number of exemptions or reductions for social reasons is falling. As of 12/31 around 2.5 million people were therefore exempt from paying the license fee. This is a decrease of around 138,000 (minus 5.2 percent) compared to the previous year. The number of discounts, for example for severely disabled people, also fell further in 2021 (minus 2.8 percent).

Many people complain about this, but the posting service reports: “Around 92 percent of these contradictions were not justified; around 3.8 percent was granted and around 4.2 percent of the objections were partially granted.”

The increased fees, the stricter claims management and the declining acceptance of the public service system mean that the dispute over the collection of fees is now taking place on a massive scale. A total of around 16.76 million “measures in receivables management” were initiated in 2021. Around 1.11 million enforcement requests were issued over the course of the year. More than 3 million contribution accounts are in a dunning stage or even in execution.

In her foreword to the annual report, Katrin Vernau, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, does not say a word about the social resentment, the mass anger and the record sums. The new “diversity management” was praised for this: “The introduction of a diversity management for the strategic handling of the topic of diversity is exemplary for the initiated structural and cultural change in the house. The newly established team is closely linked to the management and will strategically support the topic of diversity both internally and externally: internally when it comes to the changing requirements of an increasingly diverse workforce. And externally, in order to meet the legitimate expectations of the contributors to modern, non-discriminatory communication.”

Vernau was recently appointed interim director of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb) for a limited period of one year. She made her salary public when she took office. The 49-year-old therefore receives 295,000 euros a year. The gross salary of her predecessor Patricia Schlesinger in 2021 totaled 338,058 euros.

The article “Millions of citizens are arguing with ARD and ZDF because of fees” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.