Radio & TV in Germany

GEZ Inspectors, TV, and Radio License Check-ups

 

GEZ Inspectors, TV, and Radio License Check-ups

 

The GEZ in Germany is one of those things that is dreaded. People stand at their doors refusing to open them in fear that on the next side is someone asking if they have a TV or radio. There are all these stories about the GEZ camping out in front of doors, listening hard to hear even the slightest sound that they can link to a television. There are other stories claiming that they've connived their way into the homes of many residents under false pretenses just to see for themselves if you were or were not lying about that radio you claimed not to have. A lot of residents, Germans as well as non Germans have a problem with paying the monthly fee associated with the GEZ. And because the majority of the time there is no penalty, just the odd worker popping up every now and then to ask the same questions, people tend to push the responsibility to the side. 

 

If you have been living in Germany long enough you've perhaps received one of the letters that they send. Attached with a form and an explanation as to what it is you'll be signing, the GEZ is adamant to get you to make the contribution. And if you, like many other people, push the letter to the side, week after week, you'll get another one, a warning a final warning and so on. But there is no reason not to pay. Sure there are some people who don't watch an ounce of television, they perhaps don't even own one. But as for the radio, it's not really something anyone can avoid. We have them in our homes, on our laptops, in our cars, on most other electronic devices. Where some may think that it is unfair to pay for something that they only turn on once or twice a year, the truth is, it may not be as unfair as one thinks.

 

The GEZ is responsible for the public broadcasting of television and radio. There will be some point in your life where you benefit from this service, whether it's something as simple as being able to hear the time when you're running late. The fee that the GEZ is asking you to pay, is by no means a high one and so it might be worth it to muster up the couple bucks a month, if only to stop the inspectors from banging on your door every day. Think about how expensive it is to provide what the GEZ provides, think about the number of people that benefit from it. And rather than looking at the GEZ like a fine, look at it as a tax and not one that is trying to drain the last dime from your pocket. The hassle of trying to hide from the inspectors and lie to the GEZ is not worth it.

 

They are indeed providing something useful, and they are doing so at a very high cost.

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GEZ seems unfair

GEZ stands for Gebühreneinzugszentrale which is responsible for the public broadcasting of television and radio, internet, that sort of thing. A lot of people find the concept of paying for these services a little or rather, more than a little ridiculous. English speaking natives argue that German television is the farthest thing from their interest and they'd rather put on a CD and rock out than turning on the radio. This stirs up the debate on why they have to pay for a service that they either never use, or use so seldom that it shouldn't count. Well, the main reason is that by law you are required to give up those 7 euros a month. In previous years people have avoided the letters, pushing them to the back of the pile, or tossing them in the Kaminofen with a couple pieces of firewood every now and then. GEZ is persistent. There's no doubt about that. You'll get the letters for as long as you refuse to comply or as long as you ignore them. You can also opt to get out of it by letting them know that you don't use these services, you don't own a TV, the radio has taken permanent residence in the basement and your car only plays CD's. Until recently, this may have worked. Although you risk the chance of one of the persistent workers showing up every now and then to check if there really isn't a plasma screen plastered to your living room wall. They've also been known to trick you into incriminating yourself by telling you they have proof of you watching one television show or the other.

So the question of how fair all of this is, comes into play more often than not.

 

 

 

While you may really not own a television and your radio is ten out of ten times off, should you really be subject to these fees? Owning the appliances are half of the problem. If you do own something that has the capability of accessing these services then you are already one step behind the GEZ. Aldi almost got the wrong end of the stick with the GEZ when they were made aware that they could be held responsible for paying the fee on every television they had in stock in a certain city.

 

What is important to know is that the services provided come with a hefty price tag. It may help to look at the cost as a tax rather than a fee. At some point you will use the services. You can't shelter yourself, and restrict yourself from these things just because you want to avoid a fee for something that will be useful at some point during your stay in Germany. There would be a bigger problem if these services weren't available. Just like the police, you may not use them today, or tomorrow or for all the years you live in Germany, but it's nice knowing that you can if you need to. [...]

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Instantly Streaming Content on your Apple TV in Germany

When it comes to streaming content on the internet, the country you are in can change what you can or cannot watch. For example, Hulu and Netflix are both not yet available in Germany. Apple TV is a unique entity on its own.

Apple TV

Apple TV does not allow you to purchase or rent content straight from the television. You need to have access to an iTunes account. From your iTunes account, you purchase and download television shows and movies, and then stream them directly to your Apple TV. If you set up your iTunes account in the United States, then you should still be able to search for, purchase, and download content as though you were still in the United States. In this case, an Apple TV could be useful if you use your iTunes account to purchase most of your English language television shows and movies.

There are other applications available on Apple TV as well. Programs like Hulu and Netflix, which are not available in Germany, are part of Apple TV. However, you can find a way to access them. This is where the Virtual Private Network, or VPN comes in. With a VPN, you can access websites that are not usually available to you in Germany. This works by getting your internet through an IP address from a country that does allow the websites you are searching for.

Other Options

While Apple products are user friendly and extremely popular, they are not universally compatible with many other electronics. If you do not happen to have iTunes or own any of Apple’s many other products, then it may be wise to look into other brands for your internet, streaming, and television needs. For television, there are many options available to you in Germany, including satellite and cable.

If you want to stream shows and movies instantly to your television, then there are other ways of doing so. You can always get the VPN and then connect your computer or a set top box that supports VPN technology to your television.

 

 

Of course, if you are cheap and disrespectful, you also have the option of pirating movies and television shows. However, should you choose to pirate content from the internet, you should heed the following warning. It seems there is a virus going around. Through backtracking, companies can follow your movements about the internet. If you pirate anything on the internet, that information is logged in a database, and this virus is delivered to your computer. Once this virus has implanted itself into your computer, you may experience some, if not all, of the following issues: pop-up images of old ladies crying because they are ashamed of your thievery; the inability to access any videos or images with the tags cute, puppies, kittens, or baby animals; the disabling of your spam filter, and the inability to re-enable it; permanent deletion of your social networking accounts; and all of the notification sounds on your computer will be changed to 20 minute recordings of crying babies. So please, do not pirate content on the internet. Just because it is easy to do, does not make it right. [...]

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Television and Radio Options in Germany

With advances in technology, there are multiple forms of entertainment available to the general public. One that has upgraded, rather than having gone out of style, is television. People are now able to watch television from anywhere, on multiple platforms, and have an extensive amount of channels, options, and programs available.

If you bring your television over from the United States, then you may need a PAL/NTSC converter. However, purchasing a television in Germany means not having to deal with voltage transformers, so it is up to you.

General Television

Your cheapest option is a Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial receiver. With this digital or HD digital DVB-T receiver, you can get about 30 channels; however, all of them will be in German. While this option is cheaper, it also offers you the least diversity in your entertainment.

Cable

Cable is more costly than terrestrial television, but the number of channels available to you increases drastically. While most generic cable packages have about 40 channels available, you can add additional packages depending on your watching habits. One option that some cable companies offer is an English Language package, which gives you about 6 channels in English in addition to the regular packages. There are some English language channels in the regular cable packages as well, including CNN, BBC World, and MTV.

Which cable providers are available to you depend on the area in which you live. Cable is often bundled with broadband, if you are looking for an internet provider as well.

Satellite

Satellite television is more common with the English-speaking crowd in Germany. With satellite television, you have many more options available to you, and more English language channel options. Different satellites have different channel options. The two most popular satellites are the Astra 2 and the Astra 9.2. The Astra 2 satellite has over 40 free English language channels available called Freesat, based in the UK. The Astra 9.2 satellite has Sky Deutschland TV, which has many English language channels, such as ESPN America, National Geographic, TNT, TCM, and many movie channels. However, Sky Deutschland TV is a pay TV package, so you would have to subscribe and get a receiver that can fit the viewing card. Sky Deutschland TV is also available through your cable provider.

 

 

UK Sky TV is another option available to you. It is typically only available in the UK; however, many English speaking German residents have found a way around this. You can simply find a hosting agency that will help you set it all up. They will deal with the activation process, as well as customer service, and supply the equipment you need. The hosting agency charges about €200 per year, on top of the Sky subscription costs. It is more expensive, but you have many more good quality English language channels available.

When setting up satellite television in your home, it is best to have the satellite dish installed by a professional, as the equipment and dish have to be installed and aimed precisely in order to receive your channels and to avoid complications. Most satellite packages are not too costly, but setup can cost between €00 and €500. When you choose to have satellite installed, be sure to check with your landlord to make sure you are allowed to have a dish installed or redirected.

With satellite television, there are three different types of receivers. There is digital, digital/HD, and digital/HD with twin tuner and hard drive. The digital/HD with twin tuner and hard drive is similar to a DVR back in the United States. With it you can record shows and fast forward and rewind through shows you are watching.

Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a way to connect to the internet using an IP address from the United States so that you have access to websites that are only available in the United States. This is an excellent option for those who cannot live without their Hulu and Netflix. Click the link for more information on how this works.

Radio

There are only a few English language radio stations available in Germany. If you are near a US or UK military base then you should have more English language radio stations available to you. These stations include the American Forces Network and the British Forces Broadcasting Service. Both have channels on AM and FM frequencies.

Register Your Television, Computer, and Radio

Germany charges a quarterly fee to have television, radio, and internet available to you. If you have any of these electronics, you have to pay the fee, which is about €54 per quarter. The application to register should be mailed to you after you register at your new address. If not, then applications can be picked up at your local post office or at some banks.

 

Entertainment can be easily available right inside your own home. How much you are willing to pay determines how much television you get to watch. However, do not forget to go outside once in a while and enjoy the world as well.[...]

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Television and Radio in Germany

Television and radio are both similar and different from the American varieties. When you use radio, television or internet services you must register with GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale)The cost is around 8 euros per month. Anytime you purchase a TV in Germanyyou are required to provide the address of the location where it will be used,and the retailer will notify the GEZ. You are required to obtain a license from the GEZ.

Television services are terrestrial, meaning local stations, cable, or satellite.

 

 

 

If English speaking television is what you need, then satellite will probably be your best option. Cable is often already installed in apartment buildings, but you have to obtain your own subscription agreement with the provider and pay the subscription fees. Television and internet may be arranged with cable services.

 

 

When renting, you must request permission from the landlord to have satellite TV. Some landlords may not allow a dish to be mounted on the building, and in this case cable will be the next best option. Radio service is offered in terrestrial, through your cable or satellite. Be warned that the majority of English speaking channels will be British, Irish or from other European countries, and not American channels. The same is true of television. Terrestrial TV and radio generally do not have English speaking channels.[...]

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