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Public Financing of Public Service Broadcasting and its Qualification as State Aid

With Particular Regard to the "Altmark Trans</I> Jurisprudence

Series:

Benjamin Linke

The book sheds light on the demands of Art. 107(1) TFEU regarding public funding of public service broadcasting (PSB). Broadcasting is of particular importance in the modern structure of democracy. PSB provides broadcasting services that are of higher quality and of more cultural value to the community than services provided by commercial broadcasters. To ensure the operation of PSB, Member States of the European Union have introduced various measures to support broadcasters. These support measures have to comply with European State aid law, which seeks to prevent overcompensation. In its Altmark Trans-ruling, the ECJ laid down specific criteria under which compensation for services of general economic interest (SGEI) should not be considered State aid in the sense of Art. 107(1) TFEU. The author focuses on the Altmark-criteria. Apart from Art. 107(1) TFEU, he also looks at the effect of the Amsterdam Protocol, which is occasionally argued to have a significant impact on the application of the State aid rules to PSB.

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A. Introduction ......................................................................................................... 13 B. Public service broadcasting in the context of State aid ....... 19 I. Definition .......................................................................................................19 II. Public value ...................................................................................................20 III. Compensation for public broadcasting services ...................................21 C. Requirements of State aid and their existence in public service broadcasting ................................................................ 25 I. Is public funding for public service broadcasting constituting State aid? ................................................................................26 1) Favouring .................................................................................................27 a) Public service broadcasting as a service of general economic interest (SGEI) ..........................................29 (1) Characteristics of services of general economic interest .....29 (2) Control standard of ‘manifest error’ .........................................31 (3) Does public service broadcasting meet the characteristics of the services of general economic interest in principle? ..................................................32 b) The Altmark Trans jurisprudence ..............................................33 2) Granted by Member States or through State resources ................34 (1) Burden of State budget .................................................................35 (a) PreussenElektra-ruling ..................................................................35 (b) Essent-ruling ...................................................................................37 (c) Reception of the Essent-ruling ......................................................38 (d) Assessment .......................................................................................39 (2) Imputability .....................................................................................42 (a) Stardust Marine-ruling ..................................................................43 10 (b) Pearle-ruling....................................................................................44 (c) Assessment .......................................................................................44 3) Distortion of or threat to distort competition .................................46 4) Affect trade between Member States .................................................47 5) Intermediate conclusion .......................................................................49 II. Burden of proof ............................................................................................49 1) Art. 107(1) TFEU .....................................................................................49 2) Art. 106(2) TFEU .....................................................................................51 III. Modification of the State aid-assessment through the Amsterdam Protocol? ..........................................................52 1) Legal exception or derogation from Art. 107(1) TFEU? ................54 2) Impact of the Amsterdam Protocol ....................................................56 a) Impact on the definition of public service obligations ..........58 b) Impact on the question of proportionality of the measure ................................................................................60 c) Impact on the burden of proof ....................................................62 D. Does...

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