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Germany – (F1) Geographic distribution of news media availability

Score in short:

All relevant news media are available to all citizens, there are no regional divides or regional shortages.

Score in detail:

Taking a closer look at the accessibility and reach of the single media types, there is no doubt that an almost complete supply of TV, radio and newspapers is guaranteed. The federal political structure of Germany is mirrored in the media system, as there are national as well as regional newspapers and broadcasts. National law stipulates that every citizen shall have access to public television and radio. For this reason, every major communication area has, in addition to private broadcasters, its own publicly run radio and TV stations.

A complete supply of radio programmes is ensured. In the 16 federal states, there are 247 private and 70 public radio stations (ALM-Jahrbuch 2008, p. 173). While there are no numbers for their technical reach, owing to the legal framework one can still assume that there is complete access. In 2008, there were roughly 40 million households in Germany (Statistisches Bundesamt, Mikrozensus 2008) and about 43 million registered radios (Media Perspektiven Basisdaten 2008, p. 6). As the number of radios exceeds the number of households, this figure also indicates a complete supply.

The total number of TV households in Germany, i.e. households that own one or more TV sets, differs because there are two different surveys. The first study counts the number of TV households of German and Eu citizens in Germany, which is about 35 million or 87.5 % (AGF/GFK Fernsehpanel). According to these data, the technical reach of the five biggest TV stations (in relation to all TV households) is nearly 100 %: 99 % (ARD) and 99 % (ZDF) for public broadcasting services, and 97.9 % (RTL) and 97.2 % (Sat1) and 97.1 % (Pro7) for commercial stations (Media Perspektiven Basisdaten 2008, pp. 4,5). The other survey focuses on the TV households of all inhabitants in Germany, which includes major populations of Turkish and other non-Eu-migrants, and therefore the number is quite a bit higher (Landesmedienanstalten). According to these data, there are 37.7 million TV households, i.e., about 94.3 % of all households (ALM-Jahrbuch 2008, p. 26). How do they get access to TV? More than half of the TV households receive TV via cable (51.7 %), four out of ten (42.4 %) via satellite and only 10.7 % via terrestrial networks. The sum adds to more than 100 %, because some households use different types of access in parallel (ALM-Jahrbuch 2008, p. 27-29). To sum the different figures up, TV is fully accessible all over Germany. Another proof of this fact is the number of TV sets, which is about 43 million (Media Perspektiven Basisdaten, p. 6).

Newspapers are also available in all regions: there are five national dailies (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Tageszeitung, Die Welt) and a large number of regional or local dailies. Besides national dailies, there is at least one regional or local daily for every district; roughly 58 % of German districts are served by just one local or regional daily, about 40 % by two or more (Schütz 2009a, p. 475; 2009b).

With regard to Internet availability, we can state that 99 % of all German households have a telephone connection and a personal computer is owned by 75.4 % of all households (Jahrbuch Fernsehen 2009, p. 297), which is the technical basis for access to the Internet: 54.9 % of all households have broadband access (OECD). Suppliers for broadband Internet connections are available all over West Germany and in large parts of East Germany. A low density is only observed for parts of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Sachsen-Anhalt, which also show a low population density (Breitbandatlas).