Hengeler Mueller advises Vodafone Kabel Deutschland on amicable settlement of the dispute with ARD and ZDF on feed-in fees

05. April 2018

The cable network operator Vodafone Kabel Deutschland and the public broadcasting companies forming the ARD network and the ZDF, have mutually agreed to settle their longstanding dispute on the payment of feed-in fees which was based on the announcement of the public broadcasters in 2011 to cancel the contract with Vodafone Kabel Deutschland existing at that time and no longer pay fees for the cable distribution.

This announcement had initially triggered proceedings at the German Federal Cartel Office. Following the implementation of the contract termination by the broadcasters by the year-end 2012, Vodafone Kabel Deutschland reacted with ten parallel civil law suits against various broadcasters. While the Regional and Higher Regional Courts had initially dismissed these legal actions for different reasons, the Federal Court of Justice annulled the decisions contested by Vodafone Kabel Deutschland and referred the proceedings back to the according Higher Regional Courts. This was followed by decisions of the Higher Regional Courts of Düsseldorf and Stuttgart in favour of Vodafone Kabel Deutschland (not legally binding); decisions of the Higher Regional Courts of Munich and Koblenz were still pending.

The agreement leads to the termination of these proceedings and to the settlement of multiple proceedings before the Administrative Court of Munich. The dispute between Vodafone Kabel Deutschland and ARTE Deutschland GmbH, in which the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe had condemned ARTE to pay damages in December 2016 (not legally binding) is not subject of the settlement.

Hengeler Mueller has represented and advised Vodafone Kabel Deutschland in the various proceedings. The Hengeler Mueller team included partner Wolfgang Spoerr (TMT) as well as associates Tobias Schubert (TMT) and Karolin Hiller (Public Law) (all Berlin).