Telephones are the new TVs in 2019

Ancillary costs privilege: that means the abolition for your cable TV

What exactly is the additional cost privilege?

The ability to pay the cable connection in the utility bill is called ancillary cost privilege. This regulation is legally regulated in ยง2 No. 15 of the Operating Costs Ordinance (BetrKV).

House owners and property managers often have so-called collective agreements (multi-user contracts) with the cable network operator. Billing takes place via a so-called collective collection. This means that individual tenants or individual apartment owners pay the costs for the cable connection to the property management via the utility bill. This then forwards the money to the cable network operator: in.

Incidentally, this rule does not only apply to television reception, but can also be applied to Internet and telephone connections.

Why is the additional cost privilege no longer appropriate?

When cable television was introduced 40 years ago, it was a real innovation. Instead of 3-5 analog TV programs, you could then receive up to 30 analog TV programs via the new cable connection. But times have changed: television broadcasting is now completely digital and there are also new distribution channels, such as television over the Internet.

However, there is currently little incentive for you to switch to alternative transmission paths, as the cable connection still has to be paid for via the utility bill. If in doubt, you will have to pay twice for TV reception. This changes now with the abolition of the additional cost privilege.

When will the utility cost privilege be abolished?

The abolition of the additional cost privilege took place within the framework of the amendment of the Telecommunications Act (TKG). The new regulations will come into force on December 1, 2021. However, there will be a transition period until June 30, 2024 for existing contracts. Therefore, in most cases there is currently no need for action. However, if the house cabling is renewed, there is no existing protection.

Tenants who have been living in an apartment for more than 24 months can - as soon as the new regulations come into force - cancel the cable connection with the landlord and freely choose new providers without having to pay twice for the connection.

What are the effects of the abolition of the cable TV ancillary cost privilege?

Already today you can choose the provider in many areas: in. Be it with electricity, gas or mobile communications. More competition leads to falling consumer prices. The best proof of this is the opening of the telephone market 22 years ago. In 1996, a landline long-distance call over 100 km cost the equivalent of 32 cents per minute - today there are almost exclusively flat rates for less than 5 euros per month.

Will the cable connection become more expensive?

The cable network operators and cable associations are of course against the planned change in the law. They fear that many of the masses of cable connections in larger residential units, which they had contractually secure for decades, will be terminated by the residents. Because with the abolition of the additional cost privilege, tenants can then switch to other types of supply without having to pay twice for their television reception.

This is why cable network operators try to convince politicians not to implement the planned change in the law with exaggerated warnings in the media about very expensive cable connections that consumers can no longer afford. Realistically speaking, the cable connection will become slightly more expensive, but according to the consumer advice center, this increase will be in the range of a maximum of 2-3 euros per month.

Cable connection costs: What about ALG-II receivers?

According to the legal regulation that is still in force, unemployment benefit II recipients are only paid for the cable connection if it is billed via the utility bill. This is also cited by cable network operators as an argument in favor of maintaining the privilege for additional costs.

What cable network operators: inside but often keep silent: If there is no hunt group, the ALG-II recipient has to pay the costs from the standard rate. This regulation has so far disadvantaged ALG-II recipients whose cable connection is not billed as ancillary costs. There can therefore only be fair and social equality of treatment if the privilege for ancillary costs is abolished.

TV reception: What alternatives are there to cable connections?

  1. DVB-T2 HD
    DVB-T2 HD is television through the antenna. In many regions you can receive around 40 channels in high resolution quality (HDTV) with an indoor antenna or with the old roof antenna. If you have an Internet-enabled receiver or television, you can receive even more channels over the Internet. The reception of the public television channels is free of charge, if you want to receive the private channels, you have to reckon with costs of around 6.81 euros per month.
  2. IPTV (classic)
    You can also receive the television program via the Internet. Some VDSL providers have corresponding offers in combination with the VDSL connection. The cost of TV reception is around 5 euros per month. However, a receiver is required for this type of reception. You have to rent or buy this from the provider.
  3. IPTV (streaming)
    Broadband internet access is required for television reception via streaming service. The costs for reception are usually between 6-10 euros. Some providers even offer free access, but their use is limited in time and / or advertisements appear. The reception on the television works with modern smart TVs with a corresponding app or with older devices with an HDMI stick to plug in.
  4. Satellite television
    The greatest variety of programs is available via satellite reception. Here you can receive all common television programs freely and unencrypted. However, you must first check whether the installation of your own satellite dish is permitted and possible.

What to do if the media advisor at the door threatens to "switch off the cable connection"?

Basically, as always: do not let anyone into the apartment. These so-called media consultants are freelance salespeople who work on behalf of the cable network operator and are paid on a commission basis.

You can do that:

  • Do not let anyone into the apartment - even the unannounced "check" of the cable connection is usually only used as a pretext for signing new contracts.
  • Do not be caught off guard and do not sign anything on the front door!
  • Ask for the media advisor's ID card and make a note of the name and, if necessary, the contact details.
  • Don't let yourself be intimidated: nobody will take away your TV connection overnight!
  • If necessary, issue a ban on the media advisor inside!
  • If the media advisors come into the apartment without permission: Go to the police and file a charge of trespassing!
  • If you suddenly find an order confirmation in your mailbox (even without a signature): Report the case to the consumer advice center and revoke the contract!
  • For unsolicited advertising calls: Never say "yes" - if in doubt, just hang up - even if it seems impolite to you.
  • If necessary, you can object to advertising by post (also partially addressed, e.g. "To the residents: inside the house") and also to advertising by telephone.

This content was created by the joint editorial team in cooperation with the consumer centers Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony for the network of consumer centers in Germany.