Germany profile - Media

  • Published
Bild front pageImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A giant front page of the popular paper Bild recalls the day the German Joseph Ratzinger was appointed Pope

Germany's competitive television market is the largest in Europe, with more than 38 million TV households.

The many regional and national public broadcasters - organised in line with the federal political structure - vie for audiences with powerful commercial operators. Each of the 16 regions regulates its own private and public broadcasting.

The national public broadcasters are TV networks Das Erste and ZDF, and Deutschlandradio. Public TV and radio are funded by a "broadcasting contribution" paid by each household. Deutsche Welle (DW) is Germany's international broadcaster.

Germany is home to some of the world's largest media conglomerates, including Bertelsmann and the publisher Axel Springer. The top free-to-air commercial TV networks are operated by RTL Group and ProSiebenSat1 Media.

Germans are avid newspaper readers and the non-tabloid press is a trusted news source. There are several national newspapers, but the press is strongest at the regional and local level. Bild tabloid is the best-selling daily.

Media freedom is enshrined in the Constitution. While the press and broadcasters are free and independent, the display of swastikas and statements endorsing Nazism are illegal.

By December 2017, 79.1 million people were online ( The leading social network is Facebook, with more than 31 million users.

The press

  • ARD - organisation of regional public broadcasters; operates Das Erste, the main national public TV channel
  • ZDF - operates second national public TV channel
  • n-tv - commercial, rolling-news
  • Welt - commercial, rolling news
  • RTL - major commercial broadcaster
  • ProSiebenSat.1 - major commercial broadcaster
  • DW-TV - public, international; in German, English, Spanish, Arabic
  • Sky - pay-TV operator
  • ARD - umbrella organisation of public radio services, including those of individual regions
  • Deutschlandradio - operates national public stations Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandradio Kultur, both offering current affairs and cultural programmes
  • Deutsche Welle - international radio, services in many languages