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is the country in the “heart of Europe”, located very much in the
centre of the continent. In terms of population and economic strength
it is the largest state West of Russia on the continent. About 82.5
million people live (2005) in Germany in 33 million households of which
98 per cent have at least one TV-set. About 10 per cent of the
population are foreign or have roots outside of Germany. The language
is German and together with Austria and the German speaking part of
Switzerland about 100 million people make up a German language space,
constituting a rather large market.\
looks back at a long history of mass media. Some of the first
newspapers started here roughly 400 years ago. During the years of the
Nazis the mass media had become a tool of the dictatorship. In 1945 the
media experienced an “hour zero” and started nearly completely anew.
The postwar media system was based on the principle of press freedom as
stipulated in the constitution of 1949. Until 1990 Germany was a
media system of the former GDR was highly centralized and worked under
the control of the Communist Party. It disappeared during the process
of unification, but patterns of media usage still differ between East
and West. Today the major media production centres are located in the
“old” West, newspapers of the former GDR are usually controlled by
1. WRITTEN PRESS
German press is characterised by a large number of titles. In 2005 the
number of ‘independent editorial units’ (meaning full publishing
entities that produce all parts of a newspaper) for daily newspapers in
Germany was 138 and the number of newspapers 359. If local editions of
all papers are included, there are 1,538 different newspapers. Since
the early 1990s, the number and circulation of newspapers in Germany
have shown signs of decline. The penetration of daily newspapers has
fallen from 79.1 per cent to 74.8 per cent in 2005.
local and regional newspaper market is strong and important in Germany.
In 2005, total newspaper circulation stood at 21.66 million, most of
which is subscription press as opposed to boulevard press. The tabloid
press in Germany is often referred to as ‘boulevard press’. 95 per cent
of the subscription press claims to be local, which is a circulation of
15.15 million. There is only a small number of national newspapers;
BILD, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ),
Welt, Frankfurter Rundschau(FR), Tageszeitung (taz). They claim to be
independent and ‘above parties’, but most cover a liberal and
conservative spectrum. In terms of circulation figures, the national
newspapers account for 1.65 million. Another 4.86 million papers are
sold on the street. The top-selling German tabloid paper is BILD
Zeitung, with a circulation of 3.6 million.
German magazine sector is extremely buoyant with some 873 general
magazines (circulation ca. 123.4 million copies) and 1,081 specialised
periodicals (ca. 15.1 million) currently on the market. A weekly news
magazine, modelled after the American Time Magazine and for long time
with a virtual monopoly in its market is Der Spiegel (ca. 1.04
million). With its investigative style of journalism, it represents the
most influential political publication in Germany.
press is characterized by a dependency on advertising income and a high
degree of economic concentration. The German market for daily
newspapers is dominated by a small number of publishers. The largest
market share is controlled by the Axel Springer Group with around 22.4
per cent of the market (BILD, Welt, Hamburger Abendblatt, Berliner
Morgenpost, etc.) The second position is taken by the WAZ Group
(Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung etc.), which is more a regional
publisher with nearly 6.0 per cent of the market. The third place is
taken by Verlagsgruppe Stuttgarter Zeitung (5 per cent) and DuMont
Schauberg in Cologne (4 per cent). The Ippen Gruppe takes the fifth
place with 3.9 per cent. The 10 largest publishers of dailies together
control 56.1 per cent of the market.
type of publication, which became popular after 1945, is the weekly
newspaper. It presents less actual news and more analysis and
background information. The most successful and important is Die Zeit
(ca. 475,000), a liberal and independent paper.
2. AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA
has a ’dual system’ of both public and commercial broadcasting. In
public broadcasting the Länder (states) have a strong role. The German
Federal Constitution stipulates that the sole responsibility for
broadcasting rests with the Länder of the Federal Republic as part of
their ‘cultural sovereignty’. Because of this, the public service
broadcasters are a creation of the Länder. Exceptions based on federal
legislation or agreements are only Deutsche Welle (DW), a radio service
designed to provide information to foreign countries,and the Cologne-
and Berlin-based Deutschlandradio (DLF/DLR) which is a legacy
institution from when Germany was divided. The organisational and legal
structure of all other broadcasting corporations is defined in Länder
laws and, if more than one state is involved, in agreements between
several or all Länder (notably nation-wide public TV provider ZDF).
traditional public service broadcaster is set up as an independent and
non-commercial organisation, financed primarily by licence fees. The
public service broadcasting organisation (Anstalt) in Germany resembles
to some extent the BBC system. The typical Anstalt provides a region,
usually a Land, with public service radio and television. NDR is the
joint corporation for the Northern Länder (Schleswig Holstein, Hamburg,
Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern). All regional corporations
together founded the ARD (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Rundfunkanstalten
Deutschlands) and contribute according to their size to the nation-wide
TV channel “Das Erste”. In addition they independently organise a
regional programme each that offers regional news and more culturally
and educationally oriented programming.
Second German Television ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) is based on
an agreement of all Länder (ZDF-Staatsvertrag) and is located in Mainz.
Supervisory councils are important in both the public and private
sector. With the advent of cable and satellite, all Länder drafted
media laws in the 1980s. These laws specifically regulate the
electronic media outside the conventional public corporations, mainly
by handing out commercial radio and TV licences and deciding what
programmes may be fed into cable systems. For this purpose new
supervisory bodies (Landesmedienanstalten) were created, each with a
council, resembling those of the public broadcasters. All broadcasting
corporations are governed by an independent Broadcasting Council
(Rundfunkrat), whose representatives are supposed to reflect the
”socially relevant groups” of society, according to a Federal
Constitutional Court's ruling.
German commercial television is controlled by two media groups calling
themselves ‘Senderfamilien’ (broadcaster families). One, formerly owned
by Leo Kirch, is called ProSiebenSAT.1Media AG and consists of Sat 1,
Pro 7, N24, Kabel 1 and 9live. The other, called RTL Group, is headed
by Bertelsmann subsidiary RTL Group S.A., including RTL, RTL II, Super
RTL, VOX, n-tv, RTL Shop and Traumpartner TV. Many more programmes were
offered in 2006, some of them independently-owned special-interest
channels, while others are subsidiaries of international conglomerates
such as Viacom, Disney, or NBC Universal.. In large cities such as
Berlin, Hamburg etc. regional commercial TV has been established.
Germany has an above-average percentage of cable households; 53 per
cent of 33 million households.
is an ongoing digitization of the terrestrial TV. Both ARD and ZDF are
active in digital television and both offer a whole range of freely
accessible digital channels. Radio in Germany is a very scattered
market. According to the different broadcasting laws of the Länder,
which stipulate plurality and diversity as a common norm, some Länder
prefer a model according to which a variety of different commercial
radio stations should cater for plurality (external plurality) while
others prescribe the representation of different stakeholders within a
limited number of radio stations (internal plurality) in order to
guarantee a diverse supply.
formerly public German Telecom (Deutsche Telekom AG) is now a
privatised company, though the state still owns 34% of the shares. It
is supervised by a body for the regulation of telecommunication
3. DIGITAL SERVICES
German landscape of digital services is characterised by an active
governmental policy of developing infrastructures for digital services
over the air. However, innovative services and programs are rare and
use of digital receivers is still disappointingly low.
broadcasters play an active role in developing digital services and
offer six specialized free digital programmes, based on their huge
programme library and time shifting. Berlin was the first place
worldwide, where after the introduction of digital tv all analogue
terrestrial tv was switched off.
4. ONLINE MEDIA
2005 about 57 per cent of all Germans were using online services. The
most successful websites (in terms of page impressions) were provided
by T-Online (of Deutsche Telekom) and by AOL.
A predominance of news online media is generated by the traditional media.
5. NEWS AGENCIES
agencies are one the market, which have certain relevance. The
dominating, internationally active agency is dpa (Deutsche
Presseagentur, http://www.dpa.de). As
nearly all newspapers are subscribers of dpa, it can be regarded as the
primary source, whereas the other news agencies are complementary
The US-American AP (Associated Press, http://www.ap-online.de), the German Reuters (rtr, http://www.reuters.de), which is a complete subsidiary company of the British Reuters and Agence France Presse (AFP, http://www.afp.de) are ranking on the second, third and fourth place in the German market.
6. MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS
journalists’ and employers’ organisations have a clear structure. On
the journalists side there are two major organisations. The German
Journalists Association (Deutscher Journalisten Verband, DJV), calling
itself a ‘trade union’ but being in fact a professional organisation.
The other one is the German Journalists Union (Deutsche Journalisten
Union, DJU), part of Verdi, a service workers’ and clerks trade union,
that is in turn a member of the German Trade Federation (Deutscher
employers’ side, the owners of the daily press are organised in the
Bundesverband Deutscher Zeitungsverleger (BDZV) and the magazine press
is represented by the Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger (VDZ).The
commercial radio and television industry co-operates in the Verband
Privater Rundfunk und Telekommunikation (VPRT).
is not a strong tradition of media related NGO’s. Media issues are
dealt with within the political foundations of the parties. Media
research is hosted by a vast variety of institutions, e.g. university
based institutes, media research divisions of both public and
commercial broadcasters, independent research institutes such as GfK
and Nielsen Media Research
7. NATIONAL MEDIA POLICIES
freedom and freedom of expression are guaranteed in Germany within the
Constitution (Grundgesetz, Art.5). Due to the strong federalism of
Germany there is a variety of actors on different levels. The central
actors in the German audiovisual media policy are the political
parties, especially the Länder organisations of the two large parties,
the conservative CDU and the social democratic SPD which control much
of the public broadcasting sector.
years of strong polarisation from the 1950s to the 1970s, media policy
is now again based on a broad consensus between the Länder. In an
agreement between all Länder, the basics of a ‘dual system’ of
broadcasting have been put in place. It includes regulation for media
concentration, stating that one company cannot control more than 30 per
cent of all TV ratings. The high degree of media concentration,
especially the two ‘Senderfamilien’, is causing concern.
update of the Länder agreement, the Rundfunkstaatsvertrag, includes the
provisions of the EU television directive, especially the provision
stating that important events, such as the Olympic Games, should be
broadcast for free.
recent times, debates about the future of German public service
broadcasting are more and more influenced by decisions and challenges
of the EU. State subsidies do exist neither within the print sector nor
in the electronic media, although special aids as a reduced valued
added tax rate and reduced prices for distributing print products via
mail serve as a state generated support for the press.
8. ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEMS
German Press Council (Deutscher Presserat) established in 1956,
consists of an equal number of representatives from the journalists’
organisations and the publishers’ organisations (20 in total). Members
of the general public may appeal direct to the Council. If the Council
supports the complaint, the respective newspaper is expected to publish
the Council’s ruling. The decisions are taken on the base of a Press
Codex which is regularly renewed according to the recent journalism
developments. The effect of this self-regulation is limited, especially
in relation to the practices of the ‘boulevard’ press.
German Advertisement Council (Deutscher Werberat) is a similar
organization, consisting of approximately 10 to 12 representatives from
the advertising industry, the media and the advertisement agencies.
They publish their decisions on complaints in a handbook. Complaints
against the public service broadcasting may be brought to the members
of the Broadcast Councils. In the commercial broadcasting media all
television companies are obliged to employ a Commissioner for Youth
Protection (Jugendschutzbeauftragter) that reports only to the company.
media, especially newspapers, have special media sections, which
contribute to more transparency for the audiences, but which are not
strong in media criticism. Journalists’ organisations as Netzwerk
Recherche (Network for investigative journalism) are trying to improve
quality of journalism.
9. RECENT MEDIA DEVELOPMENTS
the most important events in German media developments was the
announcement of the sale of ProSiebenSat.1 to Springer, but this merger
was prohibited by both media regulation and the anti-trust authorities.
Subsequently, the company was purchased by international capital
investors KKR and Permira.
important announcement was made by leading media actors Astra (for
satellites), RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 that they intended to introduce
general encryption of digital programs by 2007. This would have forced
all viewers to invest in a digital decoder and buy a smartcard (for a
few Euros so far) and would have allowed for additional programming,
pay-tv and new interactive features. Yet, this strategy has met with
strong objections from the anti-trust authority as well.
10. PRIME SOURCES FOR DETAILED INFORMATION
Altendorfer, Otto: Das Mediensystem der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. 2 Vol. Wiesbaden: VS 2001/2004.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Landesmedienanstalten (ALM): Privater Rundfunk in Deutschland. Berlin: vistas, published annually.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Rundfunkanstalten Deutschlands (ARD): ARD-Jahrbuch. Hamburg: Hans-Bredow-Institut, published annually.
Bundesverband Deutscher Zeitungsverleger (BDZV): Jahrbuch Zeitungen. Berlin: ZV, published annually.
Dreier, Hardy: Das Mediensystem der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. In:
Hans-Bredow-Institut, Ed.: Internationales Handbuch Medien 2004/2005.
Baden-Baden: Nomos 2004, pp. 245-268.
Kleinsteuber, Hans J.: Germany. In: Mary Kelly/Gianpietro
Mazzoleni/Denis McQuail, Eds.: The Media in Europe. London : Sage, pp.
Media Perspektiven, Basisdaten. Daten zur Mediensituation in Deutschland. (anually)
Meyn, Hermann: Massenmedien in Deutschland. Konstanz: UVK 2004.
Homepages with English information: http://www.ard.de (ARD), http://www.zdf.de (ZDF), http://www.bdzv.de (newspaper editors association), http://www.vdz.de (magazine editors association), http://www.kek.de (commission on concentration in the media).
Hans J. Kleinsteuber and Barbara Thomass (2006)
12. MEDIA RESOURCES
Excerpt from EUROPEAN MEDIA GOVERNANCE: THE NATIONAL AND REGIONAL DIMENSIONS, published by Intellect (http://www.intellectbooks.com
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