According to an article in Reuter, Germany's 16 states agreed on Thursday to introduce from January 1 a license fee of 5.52 euros (3.70 pounds) a month on computers and mobile phones that can access television and radio programs via the Internet. Any household or company that does not already have a license will have to pay the new levy, which is the same as the one currently charged for radio access. German households pay just over 17 euros a month to watch TV, but since more radio programs are available over the Internet than TV, state broadcaster ARD wanted the fee for computers and phones to match that of radios.
As expected, the plan has attracted sharp criticism from industry groups that argue it would harm German firms, especially small and medium-sized businesses. Germany's TV license fee is among the highest in Europe, with only Switzerland and the Nordic countries paying more. It funds four national public broadcasters, several local broadcasters and all the country's public radio stations.
This is certainly bad news for mobile device users. Wonder whether that would apply only to accessing TV and radio programs through mobile service providers or casual mobile internet TV and radio users who make use of services such as Orb, Slingbox and Sony LocationFree TV. I sure hope it is the prior. Otherwise, how would they monitor, enforce and collect the fee? I also hope this does not proliferate further to other countries or other internet services such as VoIP.