Jörn Krieger ©RapidTVNews | 16-09-2011

The subsidies the German media authorities paid to commercial broadcasters to support the transition of their terrestrial distribution to DTT were illegal. This was decided by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, upholding a previous General Court ruling.

The judges decided in 2009 that the payments of Berlin-based media authority MABB to commercial broadcasters during DTT deployment in Berlin-Brandenburg were illegal state aid infringing EU subsidies stipulations . Exceptions would only be possible in the case of competition problems to correct market failure - which was not the case, according to the judges.

Also, they considered the singular support of digital TV roll-out on terrestrial infrastructure to be a violation of the principle of technology neutrality.

The EU Commission welcomed the ruling by the European Court of Justice, arguing that it was an important decision for all member states currently organising or finalising the switchover to digital TV.

The EU Commission decided in 2005 that the commercial broadcasters RTL, ProSiebenSat.1 and FAB had to pay back the subidies as they were illegal. The Federal Republic of Germany took court action against the decision, but lost in the first instance. The European Court of Justice now confirmed this judgement. No appeal can be lodged against the ruling from Luxembourg.