Internet users and mobile phone subscribers in Germany will have to pay a special television licence costing ?5.52 each month if their computers and handsets can access TV and radio programmes.
In a move bound to be closely watched by those European nations with TV licensing regimes, Germany's 16 states agreed the controversial plan last week. The levy will be charged from the beginning of 2007 and has been priced at the same rate as Germany's radio licence.
It will apply to households and businesses that do not already have TV or radio licences.
Last year the UK's TV Licensing Authority warned that mobile devices capable of receiving broadcast television would need a TV licence. Broadband TV had been a grey area, with media regulator Ofcom and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) last year stating that licences would not be necessary.
However this summer the TV Licensing Authority warned that a licence would be required—if a household or business did not already have one—to view live online coverage of the World Cup. The BBC streamed all its live games online, and watching matches in the office soon became a popular distraction.
A TV Licensing spokesman said at the time: "Businesses still need a TV licence for watching matches on a PC. Whether you work in an office, a building site, a hotel or anywhere else, there's really no excuse for breaking the law."
TV Licensing's web site states that a TV licence is required "if you use a TV or any other device to receive or record TV programmes (for example, a VCR, set-top box, DVD recorder or PC with a broadcast card)".
Lovelace Consulting | 24.10.2006