Public and Commercial Radio and TV in Germany
It was not until 1987 that German television viewers had the option of viewing anything other than the three public TV channels (ARD, ZDF and the Third Program regional channels). Radio was similarly limited to three stations, even in large German cities. Austria and Switzerland were even more limited. Even today the Austrian TV network ORF offers viewers a choice of only two television channels. Switzerland’s single DRS German television channel only began its all-day broadcasts in 1993. (Switzerland also has channels for French and Italian.) Viewers with cable or satellite TV can watch a variety of private channels; in Germany, some private channels, such as RTL, also broadcast over the air. Cable and satellite viewers can watch CNN, MTV Europe, ... VIVA (the German response to MTV)... movie and sports channels, and more. 3Sat is the satellite version of programming from the Austrian, Swiss, and German networks combined. ...
All terrestrial TV broadcasts in Germany today are digital. In Berlin, over 25 digital television channels can be received over the air. But German HDTV was only getting started in fall 2009, and it is still not available over the air. More...
To help finance the public radio and television stations, the Austrian, German, and Swiss governments collect fees (in reality a type of tax) for the use of radio and television sets. In Germany each household pays a single fee, no matter how many radios or TV sets there may be in the house, but children with their own income pay an additional fee. It doesn’t matter who owns the device, the determining factor is who has access to the radio or TV. If you have a car radio, there is no extra fee, provided you or your spouse are already paying the household fee and the car is registered in your name. Portable radios used mostly at home are exempt. Most people pay their Rundfunkgebühren by automatic withdrawal (Lastschrift) from their bank account. Fees can be paid annually, every six months, or quarterly. The forms for registering a radio or TV can be picked up at any post office.
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... Although ARD used to receive 70 percent and ZDF 30 percent of the license fees, now this income is split evenly between the two public networks. Additional revenue comes from both radio and television advertising. (Switzerland allows no advertising on public radio.) Broadcast advertising on the public television channels is very restricted... TV ads appear in 5 or 10-minute blocks. On the German commercial channels, the constant barrage of advertising is as bad or worse than in the US.
... The German PAL color TV standard, used throughout most of Europe, is incompatible with TV sets and [video] from non-PAL countries such as France and the United States.
German Way Copyright © 1999 McGraw-Hill/Passport Books
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- ARD - Germany’s first public radio and TV network; links to all the regional radio and TV broadcasters
- ORF - Austria’s public broadcasting network
- DRS - Switzerland’s public broadcasting network
- ZDF - Germany’s “Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen”, the “Second Programme”
- Where’s the HDTV? Germany’s not so sharp. - GW Expat Blog
- Cell Phone Tips - Why your mobile phone (“Handy” in German) may not be so handy in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Also see Telephone Tips.
- Electrical Tips - Some shocking facts about electrical appliances in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
- Our Expat Page has advice and links for expats in German Europe.
- Internet and Modem Tips
- Telephone Tips - Do you know how to use a German coin or credit card phone
NEXT > Expats and PAL TV
MORE > Topic Index