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August 2022

Öffentlich-rechtliche Medien: Grundpfeiler einer demokratischen Gesellschaft

Hans-Ulrich Wagner, Andreas Meyer-Lauber, Jürgen Betz and Heike Raab discuss the future of public broadcasting at this event organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
Public broadcasting is a central pillar of the free formation of opinion in Germany. Since the immediate post-war period, it has stood for the basic provision of education, information, advice and entertainment to all citizens. In the past, it has repeatedly had to legitimise its role in shaping these pillars. Today, with the constant availability of competing digital offerings, this is more true than ever. The resulting changes in media consumption habits are also changing the expectations of the public service media system.
Therefore, the current draft for a new State Treaty on the Media aims to formulate a forward-looking mandate and to expand the broadcasters' creative possibilities. Another task will be to guarantee stable financing and at the same time to maintain and expand acceptance among the population.
Event | 30 August 2022, 4 p.m. CEST | In Berlin and via livestream
Public broadcasting is a central pillar of free opinion-forming in Germany. After 1945, the Western Allies promoted the establishment of regionally based, non-governmental and non-commercial broadcasters under public sponsorship, which networked under the umbrella of the ARD. The British BBC was seen as a model, the aim was to strengthen the young democracy. After the disastrous experiences with state-directed propaganda under National Socialism and state socialism, it seemed particularly central to provide independent information and to ensure a balanced address and participation of all social groups.
With groundbreaking decisions, the federal states and the Federal Constitutional Court strengthened freedom of broadcasting. They rejected attempts at one-sided political influence and contractually stipulated a comprehensive basic provision of education, information, advice and entertainment for all citizens. The introduction of the ZDF in 1961 and finally the licensing of private radio and television providers in the 1980s made the media landscape of the Federal Republic more colourful and polyphonic. With the political upheaval in East Germany, the number of broadcasters expanded again from 1990 onwards. The former state broadcasters of the GDR disappeared and were replaced by new public broadcasters. Soon, new competition gradually moved into private households with the internet.
Public service broadcasting has had to legitimise itself in this competition and has to continue to improve itself. The digital provision of audiovisual content and, thanks to ever faster data transmission, streaming, fundamentally changed media consumption habits and thus also the expectations of a contemporary programme offer. Broadcasting channels and communication strategies are being redefined. The development of dynamic media libraries and cooperation between broadcasters as well as with other partners in society are becoming more and more important.
In view of these transformations, the federal states are facing great challenges. Hence, the aim of the current draft for a new Interstate Treaty on the Media is to formulate a forward-looking mandate and to expand the broadcasters' creative possibilities. Another task will be to guarantee stable financing and at the same time to maintain and expand acceptance among the population, without which a public service media system would be inconceivable.
Impulse lecture:
What Is Public Service Broadcasting? Actors, Arguments, Disputes. A Journey through Time
  • Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner
    Senior Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans Bredow Institute, Hamburg. He is head of the research programme "Knowledge for the Media Society" and the Research Centre for Media History.

Panel discussion with:

  • Andreas Meyer-Lauber 
    2016 to 2021 Chairman of the WDR Broadcasting Council, 2020/21 Chairman of the ARD Committee Chairmen's Conference, 2010 to 2017 Regional Chairman of the German Trade Union Federation of North Rhine-Westphalia.
  • Jürgen Betz
    Until 2017, Legal Director and Member of the Executive Board of Hessischer Rundfunk, responsible for personnel, legal affairs, fees and licences as well as the contribution service. His legal work focused on broadcasting constitutional and broadcasting law, media policy, telecommunications law and tax law. Since 2019, he has been a member of the Historical Commission of the ARD
  • Heike Raab
    State Secretary in the State Chancellery of Rhineland-Palatinate and Plenipotentiary of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to the Federal Government and for Europe and the Media, Coordinator of the Broadcasting Commission of the Länder, Co-Chair of the Media and Network Policy Commission at the SPD Party Executive Committee


  • Dr. Mandy Tröger
    Media scientist and journalist

Infos zur Veranstaltung


Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Berlin
Konferenzsaal 2
Hiroshimastraße 28
10785 Berlin

Contact person

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner
Senior Researcher Media History

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner

Forschungsstelle Mediengeschichte
Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17-0

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