In a truly baffling move, German authorities have labeled Twitch a radio service. As a result, German streamers now have to obtain a broadcasting license, which can cost anything between one and ten thousand euros. Those that don’t get a license will be considered pirate stations, and can be fined and/or shut down.
The German Landesmedienanstalt (the state media authority) has now classified streaming on Twitch (and YouTube, possibly) as a “radio service offering”, because of some very outdated regulations. This means that German streamers (including youtuber PietSmiet, for example) are now required to get broadcasting licenses. Otherwise, the authorities can consider them to be pirate radios, which in turn has pretty rough consequences, such as fines and shutting the channel down. On the other hand, the license can cost anything between 1.000 and 10.000 euros, depending on several factors, such as audience size.
As ridiculous as this sounds, there’s a grain of reason behind the story. As Esports News UK reports, the cause of the whole situation is some very outdated legislation. Even the Landesmedienanstalt has come out and admitted that the guidelines are behind the times. This might mean that the ruling may get overturned at some point and hopefully soon.
The reason why the authorities are going through with something so obviously ridiculous also has some semblance of sense. If they set a precedent now, actual TV and radio stations might start labeling themselves as “streamers” and thereby getting around the broadcasting license themselves.
Whatever Germany decides to do, though, can’t come soon enough. Literally, it can’t. That kind of legislation usually takes a long time. PietSmiet has to get a license by April 30th, by order of ZAK (Commission for Admission and Supervision). In other words, there’s no way that they’ll sort this mess out before the end of the month. Unfortunately, it seems PietSmiet and others will have to pony up for those licenses.