German Broadcast Fee Ruling a Bad Omen for Digital Giants

Our partner Dr. Oliver von Schweinitz was quoted in Bloomberg’s BNA International Tax Monitor in an article on German broadcast fee ruling being a bad omen for digital giants.

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The Germany Constitutional Court’s July ruling upholding a broadcasting fee suggests it could put legal restraints on major technology companies like Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc. in future rulings.

The July 18 ruling lambasts the platform economy and other digital giants as monopolizing data and information—and says the increasing power of those companies is a reason why publicly funded broadcasters are needed. Attorneys told Bloomberg Tax the logic suggests the court would support future regulations to constrain digital companies’ operations, like the creation of a new tax or the establishment of a digital taxable presence.

“I found it quite interesting that one of the arguments for upholding the fee was the risk of monopolized information through platform economy and algorithms,” Oliver von Schweinitz, a partner with GGV law firm in Hamburg, told Bloomberg Tax.


Resurfacing Argument
The Court’s clear support for public broadcasting as a counterweight to false information disseminated over social media and the internet shows a clear ethical stance favored by the court. It could even resurface in legal debates surrounding the taxable presence of digital companies and the EU’s proposed 3 percent tax on large internet companies, Von Schweinitz said.


Securing Democracy
The EU’s proposed digital tax could end up on the Court’s docket, meaning that constraints on digital economy practices using arguments “raised in favor of the discretion of the government” now have more weight with the Court’s clear ethical stance on the matter, said Von Schweinitz.


In doing so, however, this case also became one of “how far the discretion of legislation can go,” said Von Schweinitz. “And it’s granting greater discussion if the direction of legislation is toward securing our democracy.”


To read the complete article click here.


Dr. Oliver von Schweinitz  advises entrepreneurs and companies in Hamburg and Frankfurt on national and international tax law as well as commercial and real estate law. His support also comprises advice on project management..

Subjects: banking regulatory law (dual banking legislation, Dodd Frank Act), commercial and tax laws – also with regards to US law, information exchange laws (QI, FATCA, CRS), private equity, real estate and real estate tax law, the taxation of open and closed-end fund

Office Hamburg, Tel. +49 40 369633-56,