Today, the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commis-sion, rendering a “provisional legal opinion”, confirmed the important social and democratic role of ARD and ZDF. In an informal letter to the German government, whose main elements were made public in ad-vance today, the Commission rejected allegations by VPRT (the umbrella organisation of commercial broadcasters in Germany) that license fee funding for public service broadcasters in Germany constitutes illegal state aid.
ARD chairman Dr. Thomas Gruber (Bayerischer Rundfunk) stated: „The Commission has recognised the competence of Member States to define the public service broadcasting remit. However, it is incomprehensible that this competence should depend on the technical means of transmis-sion. This is highly problematic, because the right of ARD and ZDF to en-gage in new services and new technologies in the digital world is at stake.” Gruber continued: “Germany and the Commission have disagreed for many years on the question whether the licence fee actually constitutes state aid. This disagreement will remain in existence until a judgement of the European Court of Justice is rendered on this matter. It is positive, however, that the Commission does not question our licence fee fun-ding.”
public service broadcasters' -3 March 2005