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Germany/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity

Only in recent years have the media become a greater focus of public cultural policy in the narrower sense. Prior to this, only measures to promote the film sector were adopted by both the Federal Government and the Länder in order to further the development of film as an element of the country's cultural heritage and to support it as a national culture industry.

Television and radio programmes in Germany are produced and broadcasted by both public corporations and private firms (the so-called "dual system" of broadcasting). All broadcasters, however, agree that programme content should help to promote the cultural diversity of the regions and the country as a whole. Article 6 of the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement of 31 August 1991 (as amended by the Sixth Act to Amend the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement) stipulates that "television broadcasters shall reserve the greater part of total time scheduled for the transmission of feature films, television plays, series, documentaries and comparable productions for European works in accordance with European law". There are nevertheless no official quotas to which the broadcasters must adhere. Culture and media policy in the Federal Republic of Germany has thus far reflected the view that the imposition of quotas – also in regard to certain groups – is an unsuitable instrument for the promotion of European films and television productions.

Media policy formulated at the European level is also taking on increasing importance for the relation between the media and culture. The EU Television Without Frontiers Directive of 1989/1997 is playing a particularly prominent role in this context. As a result of the – in some cases breathtakingly – rapid pace of technological developments in the media sector, the EU Television Without Frontiers Directive will be revised in the next few years. In the course of this revision, attention will also be given to other Community regulatory instruments affecting the media.

Binding on the press, publishers and audiovisual mass media are the general provisions of the Law Against Limitations on Competition (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen - GWU), as the central standard of German Law on Cartels and Competition. The original version, dating from 1957, has been amended several times - the comprehensive 7th Amending Bill came into force in November 2005 - and is regularly brought into line with European legislation on competition, most recently in November 2006. The GWU is supervised by the Federal Cartel Office, a Federal authority based in Bonn, or, where only individual states are affected, by Land cartel authorities. In recent years, the Federal Cartel Office has frequently forbidden mergers between publishing houses or TV companies.

The Prime Ministers of the Länder ratified the 12th Amendment to the State Broadcasting Treaty in October 2008. According to this, for reasons of competition, broadcasters who are subsidised under public law are to limit their Internet presence to the extent that they only offer material on-line that represents a complement to their television programming, and therefore relinquish any separate Internet presence.

In October 2009 the prime ministers of the Länder passed the 13th Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting. The main points are the determination of the digital capacities of broadcasting and new regulations for product placement in television.

The balance between fiction programming produced locally and foreign productions is markedly different in public television companies and commercial ones. In 2005, in the two big public broadcasting corporations ARD and ZDF, the share of German-made productions (including co-productions) was 66% and 61% respectively. European productions made up 10% and 13% and US productions 21% and 20%. In the case of the two big private broadcasters SAT1 and RTL, German productions made up 62% and 50%, European programmes - 2% and 1%, and US programmes - 35% and 46%. In the third large private TV broadcaster PRO7, German productions had a share of only 8%, US programmes - 78% and those from European countries had a share of 3%.

Chapter published: 04-09-2013

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