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Germany – (E2) Media ownership concentration regional (local) level

Score in short:

There is some limited competition between regional broadcasters in most of the German states, but monopolization in the field of local press is increasing at the same time.

Score in detail:

In order to asses the regional media ownership concentration in Germany, two types of major communication areas need to be defined first. In the case of newspapers, we speak of local and regional news media when they are published in and inform about one of the 439 German districts (Kreise und kreisfreie Städte). Regional news broadcasters operate at the level of the 16 German states. In some cases, these broadcasting stations cooperate, so that instead of 16 there are only 9 public service broadcasters.

A closer look at ownership concentration in the regional newspaper market reveals a tendency towards monopolization. There are different figures, yet all of them yield the same result: in most of the districts, there is no competition between local or regional newspapers. Schütz counts about 239 (53.7 %) district towns with just one newspaper (2009, p. 475); in a secondary analysis on the basis of Schütz’ statistics, we counted 217 monopoly districts. Another census counts 250 districts without any competition between local newspapers (Möhring & Stürzebecher 2008, p. 99). We conclude that monopolization in the field of regional or local press is rather high and still increasing.

The situation is much better for radio. There are regional public broadcasting services and at least one commercial provider in all major German regions. Altogether, we find 53 statewide PBS radio programmes, and 54 statewide and 159 regional or local private radio programmes – some of them of course owned by the same broadcasting company (ALM-Jahrbuch 2008, p. 173).

Similar findings were obtained for the TV market: each of the nine regions is served by public broadcasting services. There are no commercial 24/7 services with exclusively regional contents, but some programmes provide regional and local windows (Regionalfenster). Notable, in this context, are the regional programmes produced by the two big commercial broadcasting companies, RTL-Group and ProSiebenSat1-Media AG: their market share varies between 8 and 15 %, depending on the specific region (ALM-Jahrbuch 2008, pp. 117). However, these programmes only get an air time of 30 minutes per day, except Saturdays and Sundays, and are limited to the western part of Germany. Furthermore, in Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg, a new private broadcaster called RNF Live aired and reaches roughly 0.5 million households in these states (KEK 2009, p. 319). The only state in eastern Germany with a regional or local window is Brandenburg, where TV

Angermünde reaches only 40,000 households (ibid.). All in all, there are more than 235 local commercial broadcasters in the 16 states (ALM-Jahrbuch 2008, p. 120), but most of them have no significant reach, as they provide programmes for just one city. Thus there is some competition in regional TV markets between at least two regional competitors, although their output is quite small.