Saxony-anhalt postpones advice on broadcasting fees

The media committee of the Magdeburg state parliament postponed the consultation on the broadcasting fee on Wednesday. This gives the coalition parties another week to negotiate. The media committee is due to meet again next Wednesday to discuss the adjustment of license fees. The MPs then decide on a recommendation to the state parliament, which has the last word in mid-December.

In the dispute over the radio license, a premature end of the black-red-green coalition in Saxony-Anhalt has been averted for the time being. The media committee postponed a vote on a resolution recommendation for the state parliament on Wednesday. The MPs decided at noon to continue the deliberations next Wednesday. This gives me a week’s break. The time should be used for further discussions.

The parliament is then expected to finally vote on the State Treaty on the broadcasting license fee in mid-December.

In Talks on Tuesday the coalition parties CDU, SPD and Greens had not come to an agreement.

SPD parliamentary group leader Katja Pahle had told MDR SACHSEN-ANHALT on Wednesday: "I assume that […] we have now found a way that all three coalition partners can go together." This path was apparently to put together to postpone the decision.

Media committee should decide on recommendation

The CDU in Saxony-Anhalt wants to vote against an increase in the broadcasting fee, the SPD and the Greens are in favor. Because there was no agreement, the CDU proposed to postpone the state parliament vote. The coalition partners refused.

At the meeting on Wednesday, the media committee should adopt a recommendation for the final state parliament vote in mid-December. With the adjournment of the resolution, the break in the coalition has been averted for the time being.

No agreement, no coalition

The CDU is against an increase in the broadcasting fee, its coalition partners are in favor. The CDU would get a majority in the vote in cooperation with the opposition party AfD. However, it is unusual to vote against the coalition partners. In addition, the federal CDU categorically rejects cooperation with the AfD.

Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) does not want to vote with the AfD. The CDU in Saxony-Anhalt does not want to agree to the state media treaty either. For years it has been calling for reforms and savings in public broadcasters.

Reactions to the postponement of the decision

In parts of the governing coalition, however, there seems to be a willingness to compromise in the dispute over the interstate broadcasting agreement. The SPD’s media policy spokesman, Holger Hovelmann, said the party was ready to move. That is their job, but also that of the CDU. Politics is the art of compromise.

The media policy spokesman for the CDU, Markus Kurz, explains "We have submitted the motion to interrupt the committee, that is a legitimate means. I am optimistic that we will also find a common path Relieve citizens and hold on to the stable contribution. But what is new is that we are also taking the conditions of the pandemic into account, and I believe that this is not only in the interests of our country, but in Germany’s interests. In a previous draft for an application by the CDU in the committee, it was already stated that the broadcasters’ needs were to be reassessed against the background of the corona pandemic.

Greens group leader Cornelia Luddemann said they wanted to continue to advertise the content of public service broadcasting. Also for the fact that Saxony-Anhalt does not become the brake on a project of the state government, after 15 states had already commented positively on it.

The background to the debate

  • On January 1, 2021, the contribution for public broadcasting is expected to increase by 86 cents to 18.36 per month.
  • All parliaments of the 16 federal states in Germany must approve the project. This would change the State Media Treaty.
  • 15 federal states have so far given their approval or still want to do so.
  • The CDU in Saxony-Anhalt has announced that it will not vote for the premium adjustment. Together with the AfD, she would have enough votes. The SPD, the Greens and the Left want to vote for the premium increase. Saxony-Anhalt would be the only federal state to vote against the premium adjustment. The State Media Treaty could not be changed.
  • Politicians from the SPD and the Greens had announced that if the CDU sticks to their no, further cooperation in the black-red-green government coalition in Saxony-Anhalt could be jeopardized.

The Rhineland-Palatinate State Media Secretary Heike Raab (SPD) doubts whether renegotiations of the State Treaty are realistic. Raab is the coordinator of the broadcasting commission of the federal states. The other countries could not take up "such a proposal, insofar as it aims to not implement the adjustment of contributions now, but to postpone it". The state treaty amending the media has already been adopted by a large majority in the state parliaments in twelve countries. The interstate treaty is "a national responsibility that ensures the functionality of public broadcasting".

If the treaty is not ratified by all countries by the end of the year, it will become "irrelevant". This would lead to an underfunding of the broadcasters. According to Raab, a supplementary report by the independent expert commission KEF, which had recommended the premium increase, would hardly lead to a different result, as required by the Saxony-Anhalt CDU.