Thu, Apr. 30, 2015

Supreme Decision on Print, TV and App

CK - Washington.   While it has many private broadcasters, the German broadcasting market is dominated by a few public stations financed through a media-user fee levied on households. With the advent of the internet, the private media and print press cast a scronful eye on the public broadcasters and lobbied for a statutory prohibition on their competition in applications and internet publications. As a result, the telemedia statute for broadcasters includes restrictions governing, among others, (a) time limits during which over-the-air and cable broadcasts may be made available in apps and websites, and (b) content which may include, in addition to broadcast content, only material related to such content. The latter provision in sections 11d, 11f RStV prevents public broadcasters from intrusions into content areas traditionally held by the print media.

On April 30, 2015, the German Supreme Court for Civil Matters, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe decided a dispute between the print and public broadcast media. The print media had claimed a violation of competition law by the public broadcasters which had allegedly bust through their content borders. The defendants argued, however, that (a) their content plans are subject to a three-step review process under the statute, and (b) their plans had gained the approval of the reviewing body.

In the matter known as Tagesschau-App, docket number I ZR 13/14, the court held that the approval of a plan is not a sufficient defense against the plaintiffs' allegations; the lower court must determine also whether the implementation of the plan conforms with the statute. In addition, the court agreed with the plaintiffs that a violation of the telemedia statute can constitute a qualifying violation of law under the German competition statute.

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