1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Eternal Fees

March 13, 2009

Germany's GEZ is infamous for hounding television owners to pay their broadcasting fees. GEZ has been hard on the case of a German mathematician who died 450 years ago, residents at his former address said Wednesday.

Television with a remote control
TV watching was not a major pasttime in the 1500sImage: picture-alliance / dpa / dpaweb

The GEZ office sent Adam Ries, who recently would have turned 517 years old, a letter demanding that he pay long-overdue television license fees. While its true that Ries, an algebra expert, had bought the house in 1525, he's obviously not lounging around his living room watching a lot of television these days. A club in Ries' honor now stands on the site of his former house.

"We received a letter saying 'To Mr. Adam Ries' on it, with the request to pay his television and radio fees," said Annegret Muench, who now heads the club.

Muench said she returned the letter to the GEZ with a note explaining that a man who had died over four centuries ago couldn't possibly pay broadcasting fees. Or even have owned a television during his lifetime.

But the inexhaustible GEZ fees office nonetheless saw fit to send a reminder notice a few weeks later, albeit 450 years too late.

This was not the first time the GEZ has pursued Germans into the afterlife looking for money. Last year, a school named after poet Friedrich Schiller received a reminder asking him to declare all radios and televisions in his home and pay the corresponding fees.