Hotel Operators Must Pay for TV Programs

    View Author October 2011

    The Higher Regional Court of Munich confirmed in a decision that has now become legally binding (Decision dated 30 June 2011 – file no.: 6 Sch 14/09 WG) that hotel operators are obligated by law to pay appropriate remuneration to private broadcasting companies for the use of TV and radio programs. The court thereby found in favour of the television broadcaster CNN in its lawsuit against a hotel in Düsseldorf. The concrete case concerned the reception of programs via DVB-T.

    In the opinion of the court, the use of television broadcasting in hotel rooms is a separate secondary usage subject to copyrights independent of the type of reception technology. Hotel operators - and likewise also all cable operators or cable companies in the housing industry - are therefore obligated to conclude a licensing contract with the utilised broadcasting companies or responsible collecting society for the use of the program signals as well as pay appropriate remuneration.

    According to the reasons for the decision, it is also irrelevant for the obligation to conclude such a licensing contract whether a separate distribution contract exists between the broadcasting and cable companies, or whether direct and immediate fees are charged for the provision of broadcasting signals respectively. This is due to the fact that hotel operators profit from the use of the programs because the provision of the television program for hotel guests is reflected in the room rates even if this is not a separately listed component of the room price. A hotel guest also always pays for the possibility to watch TV in the room price. In the concrete case, the court considered remuneration in the amount of EUR 0.19 per supplied hotel room to be appropriate for a hotel located at the Düsseldorf airport. It remains to be seen at what level the remuneration will be set in other cases in the future. Possible benchmarks in this respect could be the tariffs of the VG Media.