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Germany – (E1) Media ownership concentration national level

Score in short:

At the national level, there are two or more competitors for all news media, but an increased level of concentration in the TV and print sector can be observed.

Score in detail:

The TV market is divided into two big sections: public broadcasting represented by ARD (a consortium of the 9 public broadcasters at the state level) and ZDF, on the one hand, and on the other, commercial broadcasting by RTL-Group and ProSiebenSat1Media AG with their national programmes RTL, RTLII, Super RTL, VOX, ntv and Pro7, Sat1, Kabel1, n243. There are anti-trust laws and the Bundeskartellamt, an authority that supervises market concentration. The Bundeskartellamt has to approve mergers of companies and can deny such mergers when there is a danger of a monopoly in one sector (Fechner 2008, pp. 91-92; Hans-Bredow-Institut 2006, p. 71; Puppis 2007, pp. 275-283). Boundaries are set for broadcasting companies at a 30 % market share and for the press at 25 million Euros of annual turnover for each company. Taking a closer look at the concentration at the national level, programmes of RTL-Group have a market share of 24.2 %, those of ProSiebenSat1 Media AG

21.7 %. The total market share of the national public broadcasting services is about 43.7 % (KEK 2009, pp. 338; our calculations). As defined by the indicator, we can observe more than two competitors for the national broadcasting market, i.e., there are exactly three.

The five biggest publishing companies (Springer, Stuttgarter Zeitung, WAZ, Du Mont, Ippen Gruppe) share 41.3 % of the daily newspaper circulation (Röper 2008, p. 421). Despite this apparently high degree of concentration, however, there are more than three big competitors in this sector and five national newspapers from different companies. The calculation of CR3 (market share of the three largest companies) shows comparatively high values for the TV and print sectors in relation to the radio sector.

Table 7. Market share “CR3” in Germany, 2008

Companies Market share
TV RTL-Group, ProSiebenSat1-Media AG, Viacom 46.5 %
Radio (i.e. national stations) Klassik Radio AG, RTL-Group, sunshine live 2.4 % (daily reach)
Print Springer, WAZ, Verlagsgruppe Stuttgarter Zeitung 36.6 %
Online T-Online, WEB.DE, Yahoo! Deutschland 38.4 % (reach unique users)

Source: Own calculations on the basis of: KEK 2009; ALM 2008;, Mediaperspektiven Basisdaten 2008, p. 79.

Finally, some remarks about cross-media ownership. In fact, there are reports on a number of cases of diagonal integration. Just to give a few examples, a big media company like Bertelsmann AG owns radio and TV networks as well as production companies, newspapers and publishing houses, and the big publishing house Springer AG owns a considerable amount of print outlets as well as shares in radio and TV stations. Furthermore, KEK analysed the influence of financial investors in the German media market in 2007: Private equity companies hold a large number of shares in digital TV programmes, which do not have a significant reach. But some financial investors also hold shares (up to 10 % each) in more important media companies, like Axel Springer AG, or Reuters, and the digital pay TV Premiere (KEK 2007, p. 297-301). Furthermore, there are two major cases in the German media market where financial investors hold significant shares in news media: Permira and KKR own ProSiebenSat1-Media AG; Mecom owns Berliner Verlag.