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Germany – (E3) Diversity of formats

Score in short:

There is a huge variety of news formats in every media sector in Germany.

Score in detail:

For the print sector, we firstly have to refer to five national quality newspapers (Welt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Tageszeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau), two weekly newsmagazines (Spiegel, Focus) and one major weekly newspaper (Zeit).

For TV, there are two commercial and one public news channels (ntv, n24; Phoenix). The two big public broadcasting services (ARD, ZDF) deliver news throughout the day, starting with a joint morning and a midday magazine, and news shows during the day with longer news programmes at 5, 7 and 8 p.m. Furthermore, both present a late-evening news magazine including reports and commentaries, as well as a news magazine at midnight. Political and investigative magazines, reportages and documentaries constitute an essential part of their programmes. The commercial stations offer a more limited supply of different news formats, as there is generally only one longer evening show and the morning and night programmes that are offered by some stations tend to be of a more sensationalist nature. Even the main private newscasts only present 18 % (RTL) and 27 % (Sat.1) reports on politics, whereas the PBS newscasts have a share of 38 % (ZDF) and 48 % (ARD) political news. The following table shows the proportions of information for the top five stations, and gives an impression of the diversity of formats delivering information:

Table 8. Proportions of information and formats in TV per day, 2008

  information news  TV magazines documentaries
ARD 42.7 % 9.2 % 23.7 % 11.5 %
ZDF 48.2 % 9.5 % 31.7 % 10.4 %
RTL 33.3 % 3.9 % 15.7 % 14.3 %
SAT1 17.6 % 2.4 % 12.8 % 1.9 %
Pro7 23.5 % 0.8 % 13.7 % 8.8 %

Source: Krüger & Schramm 2009, p. 203.

Radio news is delivered every hour by all public broadcasting services and most of the commercial stations. Every regional radio station uses one or two frequencies for special information programmes, e.g., WDR3 and WDR5 in the largest German state North Rhine Westphalia. The two national radio information programmes are: DLF and Deutschlandradio Kultur. Both are clearly news oriented with only small amounts of music.

The online sector is dominated by offerings from the main news stations and newspapers (; Spiegel-Online;