The German states have agreed to introduce a licence fee of just over 5 euros a month on computers and mobile devices that can access radio and television programmes via the internet. This has attracted criticism from business groups and outraged consumers.
From the start of 2007, the new internet charge of 5.52 euros a month will in principle be applicable to any household or company without a radio or television licence.
It was decided to set the level as the equivalent to a radio licence on the grounds that more radio than television programmes are currently available over the internet.
The television licence in Germany costs 17 euros a month, which is among the highest in Europe. The licence is collected by an agency known as the GEZ and is used to fund public broadcasters.
The majority of European countries have some form of radio or television licence scheme to pay for public broadcasting, but the system has been slow to address the issue that radio and television programmes can be received by means other than broadcasting.
In the United Kingdom, TV Licensing, which operates on behalf of the BBC, insists that a television licence is already required to receive live television programmes over the internet.
However, informitv is not aware of anyone that has been successfully prosecuted in the UK for watching television programmes over the internet without a television licence.