The German association of commercial broadcasters

“Commercial broadcasters are always put in a light that makes them appear greedy if they ask for something like that,” VPRT president Jürgen Doetz told industry publication Meedia. ARD and ZDF will receive almost €250 million during the current licence fee period for the distribution of their HDTV channels, he said. “Now they are presenting themselves as if they are doing all of this for the viewers free of charge, although all of them, whether they want to watch HDTV or not, will pay for it through the licence fee,” criticised Doetz.

The German association of commercial broadcasters VPRT has rejected criticism made by public broadcasters regarding the plans by the country’s two largest commercial TV groups RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 to charge viewers a fee for their HDTV offers.
“If ProSiebenSat.1 or RTL distribute their channels in HD format, significant costs will arise which can’t be compensated through higher advertising income, and for us there is no endlessly bubbling fountain of licence fee revenue,” said Doetz. “The alternative would be that we don’t participate in HDTV because it’s too expensive. We want to offer viewers the additional value of HD television, but it must be paid for.”

Doetz stressed that the HDTV fee plans weren’t a form of pay-TV by the back door. “The largest pay-TV providers are still ARD and ZDF, but our colleagues always claim that with them it’s all free. And then they point their fingers at the commercial broadcasters when they talk about encryption and paid content.

Doetz also defended the restrictions which commercial broadcasters could impose on digital viewers with the introduction of new-generation common interface CI+ and certified set-top-boxes for satellite operator SES Astra’s HDTV platform HD+:

“Our viewers have known for a long time that our main business model, which finances programmes for them, consists of selling advertising. If modern digital recorders now offer the technical possibility to effectively blend out commercials, no one can expect us to support that, just as no one can reproach TV broadcasters for incorporating advertising in a way that doesn’t allow ads to be skipped or edited out when digital television creates this possibility.

The future of commercial broadcasters depends on our ability to achieve a reasonable mix of income sources. Advertising is and remains our core business, but it’s not as if advertising provides an endless scope for growth – it’s rather the contrary. We won’t be able to shoulder rising costs through technical innovations like the transition to digital television without additional income sources.”