When stand-up comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld came up with the idea for a show about nothing at the end of the 80's, they had no idea that it would become one of the most successful TV series of all time. It was so successful David and Seinfeld have become some of the best paid stars of their time. By the time their rights run out, they will have earnt no less than 1.7 billion dollars.
In the US this model is still common practice. The authors and producers hold the rights to their work and the stations pay them for the right to broadcast. This model is responsible for the large amount of creativity in American television that produces great rpogrammes such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, Lost and New Girl year after year. These programmes are recognised and popular - not only throughout the English speaking world, but internationally, and are often translated into several languages. As the popularity of certain programmes spreads, authors and producers earn more money and therefore can use the capital to fund more ideas and more shows. The risk is reduced because they know that success may not come with every programmes, but that when it does come, it will cover their failures.
In Germany, this model is still unthinkable. Producers are treated like employees and are paid for their time, their materials and their effort. Jens Steinbrenner is calling for a change. He is calling for at least a small part of rights to be returned to the producers after the broadcast. This would put the German system more in line with the American system and it is expected that creativity would increase. At the very least, this would reduce the control the major TV channels have in Germany and allow producers to create a wider range of shows, letting the successes offset the failures. Variety in television could lead to more successes and programmes even being transferred into American versions, much like the creation of The Office in the US.