More than 20 industry associations in Germany have sent a petition to state governments, asking them to shelve a new monthly broadcast fee for Internet-connected PCs and cell phones.
Tempers have flared in Germany since heads of the country’s 16 states announced plans to introduce the fee for homes and businesses that have one or more Internet-connected computers and that don’t already pay registration fees for television and radio. The fee, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2007, also applies to Internet-enabled wireless devices and game consoles.
The petition, which proposes instead a new financing system for public broadcasters, was sent ahead of a meeting of the state governments scheduled for Wednesday.
Businesses would be particularly affected by the proposed fee, set at 5.52 euros (US$7), because, unlike private households, they would be charged per device.
The Association of Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitcom) estimates that over a four-year period, a PC would generate fee-based costs of more than 800 euros—about the price of the machine. German businesses could be burdened with additional costs of more than 150 million euros annually.
The associations, including the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, the German Retail Association and the Federation of German Industries, view PCs as essential office tools that are typically not used as devices to receive broadcast content and, as such, should be exempt from any fees.
The group has asked the German state governments to delay a decision and, instead, study ways to reform the current financing scheme for the country’s public broadcasters before their current fees expire in January 2009.
Germany is one of several European countries, including Ireland, which is considering a broadcast fee for computers and mobile phones.
-John Blau, IDG News Service (Dusseldorf Bureau)
Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.