German Publishers Take ARD to Court Over News App

2.5 million people have downloaded ARD’s “Tageschau” App.

COLOGNE, Germany – A German court today begins hearing a suit by the country’s largest newspaper publishers against public broadcaster ARD over the channel’s popular Tageschau news App. The publishers claim the free App, which has been downloaded nearly 2.5 million times, represents unfair competition with their own online offerings. The crux of their argument is that the Tageschau App contains too much text and therefore violates ARD’s mandate to deliver television news. As a public broadcaster, ARD is financed by a television tax all German viewers are required to pay.

ARD claims the App does not exceed its mandate, as it does not offer anything not available on its own news website. If the court rules in favor of the publishers, ARD could be forced to greatly restrict its online news services or purchase them from third-party sources and charge for them.

The case, which kicks off in Cologne Thursday, is being watched closely, as it could prove a precedent for all online news services provided by German public broadcasters.

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