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Nationalizing the Bundesliga? Hoeness suggests a TV Tax

Uli Hoeness waiting on free money...

Uli Hoeness waiting for free money...

What would you pay for Champions League success? “Imagine if we had an extra 100 million euros available, then I’d tell our fans to get ready to celebrate winning the Champions League,” says Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness in an interview with Wirtschaftswoche. His proposal involves an increase of 2 € of Germany’s TV licensing fees (up from 17.96 a month, about $23.31), in order to fund professional clubs.

Outside of Canada and the United States, TV licenses are a fact of life. They’re a means of financing public broadcasting with only limited additional funds. In Germany that fee totals approximately $280 a year. With 37 million TV households, Hoeness’s proposal works out to about an extra $1.17 billion a year. That would put them within striking distance of England’s and Italy’s income from television broadcasting rights. Perhaps most exciting for fans, all the matches would be available on public channels (like ARD or ZDF). As things currently stand, only a single weekly highlights program is available.

What this amounts to, as the post’s title suggests, is the nationalization of the professional football in Germany. In one sense, this proposal is in keeping with other well-known, distinctly ‘German’ aspects of football organization: working-class fans haven’t been priced out of attending matches and individual investors aren’t permitted to own a majority stake in clubs. Both work to foster a sense of community, the first by maintaining a traditionally vocal constituency and the latter by maintaing the (sometimes illusory) power of participation amongst fans.

Things are unlikely to change in the near future, at least. According to ARD spokesman Harald Dietz, “This isn’t under consideration for ARD. The TV licensing fee for the next four years is set, and besides we can’t influence the rate. Fundamentally the TV licensing fee is not earmarked, but rather set aside for our general use.”

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  1. Juliet

    March 17, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I dunno, in a way, it appeals to me. It’s a sort of share the burden to make our country great approach that I like.

  2. diana

    March 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Or as Rafa Honigstein had said in his latest Bundesliga round-up at the Guardian, ECL (English Champions League). That really make me laugh, considering I am a little under the weather of late. I can really sneeze on cue. 🙁

  3. Double Pivot

    March 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Totally agree Diana. And the other thing about the timing, is that Bayern and Hamburg could walk away with the UCL and UEFA trophies. That could bury his idea faster than anything. I think he would have been better to time this proposal after a good piece of economic news or a bad result in Europe.

  4. diana

    March 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I like that photo, Mark! Must be Photoshopped, eh? 🙂

    Anyhow, obviously I am not in tune with how the TV scene is like in Germany but, has Uli Hoeness’s idea came at a wrong time? Of course it is nice to have football on the public channels given not everyone has Premiere but, with what the world is experiencing at the moment with the current economic situation…has he found the wrong time to say it so? I know Hoeness has his reasons but, well.

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