The Rundfunkstaatsvertrag (Interstate Broadcasting Agreement) is the nationwide law for radio station and television licensing in the Federal Republic of Germany. Based on the Kulturhoheit der Länder (sovereignty of the German states in terms of cultural aspects) it is not a federal law but instead it is a treaty passed by all Bundesländer (states of Germany).
The full title of the law is "Staatsvertrag für Rundfunk und Telemedien" (state treaty on broadcasting services and telecommunication media) but in most occasions it is called Rundfunkstaatsvertrag (abbreviated as RStV). The first version was enacted on 1 December 1987 (signed on 3 April 1987) and the fifteenth revision of 30 October 2010 is due to come into effect on 1 January 2013.
The German Interstate Broadcasting Agreement is the basis for a series of other laws, most notably the "Rundfunkgebührenstaatsvertrag" (RGebStV - Interstate Agreement on Broadcasting Licence Fees) and the Rundfunkfinanzierungsstaatsvertrag (RFinStV - Interstate Agreement on the Financing of Broadcasting). Some aspects were refined by the federal "Telemediengesetz" (TMG - telecommunication media act) that is otherwise covering internet services.
The German public broadcasting services were introduced in post-war Germany in a similar fashion to the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Rundfunkstaatsvertrag is similar to the Royal Charter of the BBC however the licensing and financing model diverged over time. The Rundfunkstaatsvertrag was introduced in 1987 to allow licensing of private broadcast companies beyond the public broadcast services that existed before.