Back to normal
My birthday is over. It was a nice but busy day. I think there’s never been so much “traffic” on my weblog before. Yesterday’s homepage got 516 hits (well, in 36 hours) and made it to number 5 on the Most Read Messages list of my site.
Thanks again for all the birthday wishes!
I just discovered Sheila and I received birthday greetings from Karl Martino as well. (André told me.) I don’t think I’ve ever visited his weblog, but of course I read it today. Thanks, Karl!
You don’t own a TV?!
In the “background” – that is, on my Discussion group, Susan and I compared reactions of Germans and Americans upon confessions that we don’t own a TV. In my posting, I tried to explain about the German Rundfunkgebühr and the GEZ.
I found a little article about the öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunk:
“Public Radio and TV
There are two public tv stations in Germany, one is the ARD, the other the ZDF. The ARD consists of 11 regional radio stations, which produce jointly the nationwide ARD tv programme. Parallel to this joint programme, all state stations offer some limited tv programmes on their own. Moreover, these 11 stations produce 49 different radio programmes. Also the Deutsche Welle, a worldwide radio service, is produced by the ARD.
The ZDF to the contrary is a federal tv station only. Public broadcasting stations are ruled by special statutes. Among other things, these statutes limit the available time slots for advertisements and their timing. Public broadcasting stations, therefore, rely heavily on broadcasting fees (in 1993 the ARD alone received DM 6.9 bn). However, they are losing more and more ground to private competition, which is not subject to these rules. A further problem is the structure of the ARD network itself with its transfer payments and mutual programme exchanges. This system is no longer supported by all state politicians, who are responsible for the ARD statute.
Theoretically, public broadcasting itself is politically independent, in reality, however, most stations have some affinity to one or the other party.”
The GEZ I mentioned above is the organization that collect the broadcasting fees. They get information from the Einwohnermeldeamt, the residents’ registration office. I guess that’s another thing that’s unfamiliar to US citizens. The office collects data about every inhabitant of a city or community, like name, date of birth, address and – for emergencies – whether the person is a doctor. When you move, you have to register at your new location.
The GEZ gets the data from the registration office and tries to get people to pay the fee, but they can’t really force you to pay if you don’t want to. For example, you don’t have to allow them to search your house for a TV.