Public legal radio

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The designation of public broadcasting (short ÖRR ) applies to two terms, the radio and television programs and the organizational structure of public broadcasting corporations .

The opposite is the private broadcasting , which is operated by privately organized companies. Broadcasting under private law is mainly financed by advertising income.


Development, organization, tasks

Most European countries have public or similar broadcasting.

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is considered to be the first public broadcasting corporation. The BBC, first founded in 1922 as a private company, was legally brought into the service of the public in 1927 after years of economic influence and takeover attempts by the state. The first “public service” model, which is financed exclusively by license fees, was created.

In the German-language legal literature, the term public law appears in relation to broadcasting as early as the late 1920s, but not yet in the sense of a hard definition.

In addition to a basic service mandate and a legally defined program mandate , one of the other essential tasks of public service broadcasting is therefore to maintain political and economic independence.

After public service broadcasting had had a monopoly position for decades , the situation in the European broadcasting landscape changed completely at the beginning of the 1980s with the introduction of private television and the emergence of the dual broadcasting system.

In addition to private and state broadcasters and programs, public law is the third internationally widespread form of organization for broadcasters. There are also mixed forms, for example in Norway, Sweden and Switzerland .

  • The Norwegian broadcasting company NRK has been operated in the legal form of an AG since 1996, which is state-owned and performs a statutory supply mandate. Financing is provided through fees and taxpayers' money.
  • In Sweden , SVT is operated in the form of a public limited company, the majority of which is owned by a foundation. Financing is done through fees.

In Europe, public broadcasters - in addition to the countries to which separate chapters are devoted here - have Italy ( Radiotelevisione Italiana , RAI) and the Netherlands ( Nederlandse Publieke Omroep ).

In Europe only in Monaco there is neither public nor state broadcasting and also no broadcasting with any other legal form financed by fees or taxes.

Financing of public broadcasters

The financing of public broadcasters varies across Europe. Essentially, they draw on the following sources of income:

Fees are the primary source of funding in Europe. This is justified with the legally defined mandate to provide basic services as well as economic and political independence.

The competition on the broadcasting market and thus the pressure on public broadcasters has increased significantly in recent years - especially in German-speaking countries. This development is primarily due to the rapidly increasing range of programs in satellite and cable households, which has been driven forward by rapidly advancing digitization.

Dual financing

In January 2008, an announcement by France's Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy regarding the dual financing of public broadcasters caused a stir not only in France, but also in Germany and Austria, among others. The French government had considered banning public broadcasting as part of a “cultural revolution” from continuing to finance itself from advertising. The advertising-free program should be paid for by new taxes: an additional tax on advertising from private broadcasters and a new tax for electronic receivers were discussed. Ultimately, Sarkozy's plans did not materialize.

Examination of the financing systems by the EU Commission

Under the heading of “unauthorized aid”, the financing of public broadcasters has been under scrutiny by the European Commission for several years. The reasons for this include complaints from private broadcasters who feel they are being disadvantaged by the financing of fees and the increase in the range of commercial services offered by public service operators.

According to a decision of the EU Council in 1999, the choice of the financing of public contracts is left to the EU member states. However, a definition of the public service remit by the federal states is required . Furthermore, the public broadcasters of the federal states are allowed to strive for high audience ratings like private broadcasters. A 2001 communication from the European Commission recalls the need for separate bookkeeping to separate public and commercial activities.

Financing model, financial survey

In addition to the general discussions on the financing of public broadcasters, the model of financing itself is repeatedly and critically questioned. Whether radio license fee, license fee, media fee, lump sum per capita or a tax model, the topic of financing models and alternatives to the license fee is complex. The Netherlands and Portugal, for example, have now replaced the license fee with public funding, which means that the cost of collecting the fee itself has been eliminated. However, the public service broadcasters are of the opinion that independence from the state will be reduced in this way. In addition, revenues are falling, as happened in Holland and Portugal.

Criticism of public broadcasting

Both public service broadcasting itself and its financing via the broadcasting fee as well as advertising revenue and the model of fee collection are regularly the subject of critical reporting. As a result of new transmission channels and the liberalization of the broadcasting market, public broadcasting is in increased competition with private broadcasters ( dual broadcasting system ).

For example, the report prepared for the German Federal Ministry of Finance recommends Public Service Media - Task and Financing from October 2014,

  1. to give more weight to the principle of subsidiarity (to leave private broadcasters to do what they can do alone, including sport and entertainment)
  2. to completely forego advertising financing,
  3. to finance this broadcast from the general budget or through a modern user fee and
  4. to create more transparency through the publication of parameters.


In Germany, after the Second World War and in the course of democratization, the Western Allies introduced public service broadcasting based on the British model ( BBC ) under the direction of Hugh Greene . The broadcasters are founded as contribution-financed corporations (or institutions under public law ).

As early as September 22, 1945, Radio Hamburg went on the air, which as Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (NWDR) became a joint broadcasting company under the organization of Hugh Greene for the entire British occupation zone. The ARD was from the six national broadcasters on June 5th, 1950 BR , HR , RB , SDR , SWF , NWDR and an advisory RIAS Berlin founded , the ZDF broadcast for the first time on 2 April 1963rd

The necessity and secure existence of public service broadcasting, the scope of the basic service mandate to be performed by it and its non-state funding necessary for the fulfillment of these tasks were confirmed by the Federal Constitutional Court in the so-called broadcasting judgments . The Federal Constitutional Court then ruled in 1987 that the legal form under public law is not mandatory. Accordingly, another legal form, such as B. in Switzerland, possible (The Swiss Broadcasting Company SRG is a private, non-commercial association within the meaning of the Swiss Civil Code with a public mandate).

At the time of the Weimar Republic , the radio stations were companies (AGs / GmbH) under private law, in which the individual countries and the Reich were shareholders.

In the mid-1980s, in addition to public broadcasting, private broadcasting was introduced in Germany . As part of the reorganization of broadcasting in Germany, which has become known as the “ dual system ”, the introduction of private broadcasting was inseparably linked to the secure existence of a strong public broadcasting system.

The public service broadcasting has the imperative of state distance and independence. That is why - with the exception of Deutsche Welle, which is also organized under public law as a state broadcaster - the broadcasters are not financed through taxes. Public broadcaster and the state media authorities who control private broadcasting, financed by license fees , which every household every month on the broadcast contribution payable must. In terms of public broadcasters, Germany has the seventh highest television license fee in Europe.

In addition, the public broadcasters in their main channels ARD and ZDF are allowed maximum of 20 minutes on weekdays to 20.00 average advertising broadcast. Outside this time, with the exception of broadcasting major events, no sponsorship is permitted.

In contrast to other ÖRR offers in Europe, a public service broadcaster in Germany may not directly generate profit in the private sector. However, broadcasters are allowed to set up private companies or to participate in such.

In May 2010, Paul Kirchhof submitted an expert opinion on behalf of the public broadcasting corporations on the restructuring of the financing of public broadcasting. In it, he recommended a change in financing from a device fee to a budget contribution.

On June 9, 2010, the broadcasting commission of the federal states , chaired by the Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Kurt Beck ( SPD ), decided on the device-independent broadcasting fee proposed by Paul Kirchhof for apartments and business premises. The compatibility with the Basic Law claimed by Kirchhof and the legislative states has been questioned by various critics. The Bavarian and the Rhineland-Palatinate Constitutional Court confirmed the constitutionality of the broadcasting fee after complaints against the state treaty on which the reorganization of broadcasting financing was based .

Timeline of the state broadcasters and other public broadcasters since 1945 (including occupation and GDR)
State / broadcasting area 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
1945 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 1990 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 today
Berlin (East) Radio Berlin Berlin radio Broadcasting of the GDR DFF / Funkhaus Berlin
Brandenburg DFF / LSB ORB
Saxony-Anhalt Central German radio DFF / Radio Saxony-Anhalt MDR
Saxony Radio Leipzig DFF / Saxony Radio
Thuringia DFF / Thuringia 1
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Berlin radio DFF / RMV NDR
Schleswig-Holstein NWDR NWDR NDR
Hamburg Radio Hamburg
Lower Saxony
North Rhine-Westphalia WDR
Bremen Radio Bremen Radio Bremen
Hesse Radio Frankfurt Hessischer Rundfunk (HR)
Bavaria Radio Munich Bavarian Broadcasting (BR)
Baden-Wuerttemberg (North) Radio Stuttgart SDR SWR
Baden-Wuerttemberg (South) SWF SWF
Rhineland-Palatinate Radio Koblenz
Saarland Radio Saarbrücken Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR)
abroad Radio Berlin International (RBI) German wave German wave
German wave
Berlin (West)   RIAS
  Germany radio
Germany Deutschlandfunk (DLF)
DS culture
  • State broadcaster in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • British zone of occupation broadcaster
  • Broadcasting company of the American Zone of Occupation or the USIA
  • Broadcasting company of the French zone of occupation and the Saarland
  • Broadcasting company of the Soviet zone of occupation and the GDR
  • organization structure

    The governing bodies of public broadcasting consist of the Broadcasting Council and the artistic director and board of directors elected by it. The task of the Broadcasting Council is to monitor the plural programming. The board of directors controls the economic activity of the broadcaster and the management of the director. This in turn is responsible for the program design and general management. He represents the transmitter to the outside world.

    In the supervisory bodies representatives sit in the country's broadcasting laws specified country socially relevant groups such as political parties , trade unions , social organizations , churches , etc., the political parties - the court so limited - not submit more than one-third of the seats. The public service broadcasting has to fulfill the so-called public service program mandate, which is anchored in the corresponding legal basis. According to this, the programs must offer viewers and listeners a comprehensive and balanced range of information, education, culture and entertainment. Certain journalistic and ethical principles must also be observed.

    The sovereign data protection control is carried out by broadcast data protection officers due to the fact that the broadcasters are remote from the state

    as an independent supervisory body that is not subject to instructions in accordance with Article 51 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    State broadcasters

    The state broadcasting corporations in the Federal Republic of Germany include all broadcasters under public law that organize radio and television programs for one or more federal states .

    There are currently nine state broadcasting corporations that have come together in the working group of the public broadcasting corporations of the Federal Republic of Germany ( ARD ):

    Nationwide and international programs

    The nationwide public service programs include Das Erste (joint program of ARD), the program of the Second German Television and Deutschlandradio with its three radio programs Deutschlandfunk , Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Deutschlandfunk Nova .

    Furthermore, the public broadcasters offer community programs and special interest channels. These include ARTE , Phoenix , 3sat , KiKA (Der Kinderkanal) and a digital program offering ( ARD digital , ZDFvision ) with three specialty channels each, as the State Broadcasting Agreement does not allow more than three digital specialty channels per public broadcaster. Until December 31, 2005, the public service providers were still allowed to include third-party providers in their bouquets.

    The international broadcaster Deutsche Welle is also organized under public law and a member of ARD. In contrast to the other public broadcasters, however, it is not financed from broadcasting fees, but exclusively from the federal budget.

    Commissions and Cooperation

    The ARD broadcasters work together mainly in commissions in which the ZDF is partly represented. The commissions enable internal affairs to be coordinated and external representation. The lead management is incumbent on individual directors or institutions for longer-term tasks.

    In addition, there are standing technical commissions for the management areas of the individual broadcasting corporations, which in turn are subdivided into sub-commissions or working groups. In principle, the respective responsible directors of the managing institution hold the chairmanship of an expert commission, i.e. in 2004/2005 the directors of the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation.

    • Legal Commission - Chairman Albrecht Hesse (legal advisor and director BR)
    • Expert Commission Finance - Chairman Lorenz Zehetbauer (Administrative Director BR)
      • Working group on costs
      • Working group fee planning - chairman Hans Buchholz (managing director of the GEZ )
    • Expert commission for production and technology
    • Radio commission
    • Expert commission for third television programs

    Engagement on the internet

    The public service broadcasters operate a number of Internet offers. The legal basis for this is the 12th Interstate Broadcasting Agreement (RÄStV) of 2009. Accordingly, telemedia offers from the public broadcasters are only permitted if they a.) Are closely related to the program and only remain on the network for seven days, or b.) Through a telemedia concept ( TMK), which was passed in a three-step test . As a result, all public broadcasters submitted a TMK to safeguard their existence. These must also include a dwell time concept for AV content (i.e. audios and videos) and websites as a core element . The current length of stay concepts of ARD and ZDF stipulate the following (simplified) deadlines: Topics and documents of historical importance or reference can be kept indefinitely. Education-related programs or offers can be discontinued for a maximum of five years. Reports, consumer information, etc. can be available on the Internet for up to a year; entertaining programs for half a year and sports only 24 hours. After these deadlines, the public service broadcaster must " de-publish " the respective online content . Furthermore, the 12th RÄStV contains a number of other prohibitions and requirements that must be taken into account (prohibition of “press similarity” - without defining what “press-like” is). It was already the case in the past: public broadcasters are not allowed to distribute sponsorship or advertising in their offers . From some quarters it is problematical whether the broadcasters are allowed to maintain online shops in which they sell their programs on data carriers as well as merchandising articles.

    The number of visits to the public law Internet pages is collected by the IVW and published on the Internet.

    The restrictions of the 12th RÄStV go back to a process in which the VPRT and the Association of German Magazine Publishers exerted influence: At the request of the VPRT from 2003 to April 2007, the EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes examined whether a procedure was due to illegal state funding (Aid) is to be initiated. The underlying allegation was that public service broadcasting partly performed tasks on the Internet with fee money that the private sector could also take over. The public broadcasters argued, however, that they performed meaningful tasks for a democratic public, that these were always free of charge and that their development would be permanently impaired if they were not allowed to do so ( media convergence ).

    As a result, the allegations were not confirmed and no proceedings were initiated, whereby the representatives of the public service broadcaster agreed to make appropriate changes in response to specific concerns about the financing and the scope of offers accompanying the program. This includes, for example, the specification of the program mandate by the state parliaments and a transparent separation between public and commercial parts of the company. "Since then, the broadcasters have had to demonstrate, among other things, that a digital offer meets social needs, strengthens journalistic competition and remains financially within an appropriate framework."

    In a so-called Munich Declaration at the end of July 2008, publishers demanded that media policy should limit public-law offers on the Internet to moving images and audio in the 12th Amendment to the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty.


    The financing of public broadcasting in the Federal Republic of Germany is based on two pillars: the broadcasting fee and advertising income ("dual financing"). The principles of state funding of public service broadcasting has developed the Federal Constitutional Court in its broadcasting law, in particular in its judgment of 22 February 1994 : Off . Article 5 . Section 1 Sentence 2 of the Basic Law , the Federal Constitutional Court has derived the order of the state, its citizens a to ensure media "basic supply". The BVerfG has developed an existence, development and financing guarantee from the constitutional mandate of public broadcasting. There is a duty of the state to properly finance the public broadcasting corporations. On the other hand, public broadcasting is characterized by the prohibition of censorship ( Article 5, Paragraph 1, Sentence 3 of the Basic Law) and the constitutional requirement of freedom of the state, i. H. Broadcasting funding must take place in a form that excludes the state's ability to influence programming, in particular.

    Not only the broadcasters, but also the administrative bodies are financed through the broadcasting fee, which the ARD-ZDF-Deutschlandradio contribution service collects on behalf of the state broadcasting corporations. This includes the state media authorities and the administrations of the individual broadcasters.

    The total budget of the public broadcasters is around 9.1 billion euros annually, of which 6.3 billion euros for the ARD broadcasters. Measured against the budget, this makes ARD the largest non-commercial program provider in the world.

    Determination of contributions

    The implementation of the principles established by the Federal Constitutional Court in its “ fee ruling ” was carried out by the State Treaty on Broadcasting Financing (RFinStV). At the center of this regulation is the commission to review and determine the financial needs of broadcasters (KEF). The KEF is an independent, pluralistic expert body. The broadcasting fee is set in a three-stage process:

    • The broadcasters report their financial needs to the KEF.
    • The KEF carries out an exclusively technical examination while preserving the program autonomy of the broadcasters and makes a recommendation on the amount of the license fee.
    • The broadcasting fee itself is determined by the state treaty, taking into account the needs of the KEF. The approval of the state parliaments is required to change the broadcasting fee.

    Political disputes over funding

    Public broadcasting as an information service for which every household has to pay regardless of usage is in a societal situation of tension. Against the background of the history of the 20th century, after the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany, this system was chosen to preserve the political and economic independence of the broadcasters. The fact that this independence has limits is shown by the regularly recurring debate on fees: In 2005, the state parliaments only approved a fee increase that was significantly lower than the independent KEF had recommended (€ 0.88 instead of € 1.09). The public service broadcasters have brought against it constitutional complaint.

    A recurring point of contention in the ongoing discussions about the role of public service broadcasting is the type and scope of the broadcasters' websites, which, for example , have been criticized by German magazine publishers as distorting competition . In response to such criticism as well as to the requirements of the EU Commission , a new draft of the State Treaty on Broadcasting Fee, which the Prime Ministers of the federal states agreed on in October 2008, provides for a significant restriction of the Internet sites concerned. Under no circumstances may the broadcasters use the license fee to provide a full program of content on the Internet. The broadcasters are also no longer allowed to offer advertising portals, games, partner exchanges and advice portals without reference to specific programs on the Internet.

    Cost structure

    Television is orders of magnitude more complex than radio. This was by no means fully reflected by the lower fee rate for households that only receive radio: in all ARD broadcasters, radio subsidized television. Sports broadcasting rights are the largest cost item within television .

    The collective agreements are still based on the Federal Employees Tariff (BAT), which has been replaced in the rest of the German public service since 2005 by the drastically more economical collective agreement for the public service (TVÖD). The broadcasting collective agreements guarantee permanent employees of the public service broadcaster an automatic promotion to a higher salary level every two years. For example, the starting salary for editors (group 15) is € 4642; with the 13th year of service, € 6308 is reached (as of 2009). A small part of the permanent freelance employees earn significantly better, so that a change to a permanent position is unattractive for them. Despite the savings targets, the number of employees has been increased until recently.

    Social acceptance of the programs

    The acceptance of programs can only be measured using various indicators. This includes:

    • The market share: In television, the market shares (surveyed by the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung) of public broadcasting programs were a little below 50% on a national average in the years 2001 to 2004, and in radio a little higher. That means: Germans devote about half of their media consumption on average to a public service program. However, the numbers vary between the different federal states. The figures also depend heavily on age: in 2007, the market share of public television programs among viewers between 14 and 29 was less than 15%. However, the average age for television programs is around 60 years.
    • The credibility of the journalistic offer: In response to the question "Which media do you trust journalists in particular?", 69% voted for journalists on public television compared to 15% for private television. Radio stations received 37% without differentiating between public and private television . Furthermore, a study shows that the public service programs enjoy significantly less trust in the conservative to right-wing populist audience than in the left-green.

    Integration with politics and business

    As with all influential organizations, the broadcasters were repeatedly entangled with party political and commercial interests. This ranged from construction managers employed by broadcasters, who preferred certain construction companies, to representatives of the music industry, who offered music journalists luxury trips with artists, on condition that the band received a correspondingly positive appreciation in the program. A well-known example from the early 2010s is the case of the former CSU press spokesman Hans Michael Strepp , who repeatedly tried to put pressure on television editors. The former ZDF editor-in-chief Nikolaus Brender confirmed this; At the beginning of his term in office in 2000 it was common for politicians to call editors. There are numerous cases in which supposedly critical contributions have been removed from the program under pressure from industry or politics.

    The appointment of Christine Strobl as program director of the ARD is criticized . She is the daughter of Wolfgang Schäuble and, like her husband Thomas Strobl , who is currently (2020) Interior Minister in Baden-Württemberg, has been a CDU member since she was a teenager.

    See also


    The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation , ORF for short, is the largest media company in Austria and has its headquarters in Vienna . In addition to the ORF center in Vienna, ORF operates a regional studio in all nine federal states and South Tyrol .

    The tasks of the ORF as a public broadcasting company are regulated by the ORF law . This includes, among other things, the statutory mandate for full coverage and a comprehensive program mandate ( § 3 , § 4 ORF-G). Since the last amendment in 2001 ( § 1 ORF-G), the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation has been a foundation under public law .

    The public service contract is financed partly from fees (program fee, § 31 ORF-G) and partly from (legally limited) advertising times ( § 14 ORF-G).

    Due to the rapidly advancing digitization, Austria’s largest media company is facing intensified competition.

    In Austria, the Fee Info Service GmbH (GIS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the ORF, (analogous to the German contribution service) is charged with collecting and billing the radio and television fees . The last time the fees were increased was on June 1, 2008.

    Program reform 2007

    On April 10, 2007, the ORF started a widely announced program reform under the leadership of General Director Alexander Wrabetz . The soap opera Mitten im 8en and the discussion group Extrazimmer , which among other things formed the heart of the program reform, were not accepted by the audience and were soon discontinued.

    Program offer

    new media


    The Swiss SRG SSR has been a company as an association within the meaning of Article 60 et seq. Of the Swiss Civil Code since 1991 . The SRG SSR, however, emerged from the public service SRG and, as a fee- financed broadcasting company (collected by Serafe AG, which is organized under private law ), is still committed to the same principles and fulfills a statutory service mandate .


    The Swiss Radio and Television Company - SRG SSR , or SRG for short, is the largest media company in Switzerland. The company, which is organized as an association under private law, is based in Bern. The designation under public law does not legally apply to the private-law association with a public mandate.

    The legal basis for the public service is formed by the Radio and Television Act (RTVG), which also defines the specific tasks of the broadcaster with regard to the four official languages. The SRG takes on the special role of offering programs of equal value to German-speaking Switzerland, French-speaking Switzerland, Svizzera italiana and Svizra rumantscha.

    Funding is primarily from fee income, but sponsorship and advertising money and other commercial income are also part of the broadcaster's financial base. In Switzerland, the Federal Council also issues licenses with a proportion of fees to private broadcasters. These also have to fulfill legally defined tasks.

    The Serafe AG is federally mandated with the collection of radio and television reception fees since of 2019. Between 1998 and 2018 the fee was collected by Billag AG .

    Program offer

    TV programs:

    Radio programs:

    United Kingdom

    The BBC ( British Broadcasting Corporation ) is the world's largest royalty-financed public service broadcaster. It was founded in 1921 and is headquartered in London.

    The program mandate, structure and financing of the establishment are anchored in the Royal Charter . Funding is primarily provided through license fees. Commercial income helps keep license fees down. Even after the introduction of the dual broadcasting system, the BBC still occupies the majority of the broadcasting frequencies, which is why only relatively few private radio and television programs are licensed.

    BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary, has been the main commercial arm of the BBC since the 1950s. Business includes selling programs around the world, publishing books, DVDs, and merchandising. The profits generated will be used by the BBC to invest in new programs and services.

    The internet platform is one of the most popular sources of information worldwide and has been offering the iPlayer video service since 2007. Programs that were broadcast an hour ago at the earliest are made available here. Live broadcasts of selected series and a BBC radio player are to be added in a later phase.

    The license fees are used to finance 8 national TV channels and regional programs, 10 national and 40 local radio stations and an extensive website.

    Program offer

    Public services financed by license fees

    TV programs:

    Radio programs:

    Public service funded by the UK Government

    Separate commercial ventures whose profits help finance public services

    The BBC also offers an Internet platform (, which is one of the most popular sources of information worldwide and has been offering a video service called iPlayer since 2007. The programs will be made available as soon as possible after they have been broadcast. Live broadcasts of selected series and a BBC radio player are to be added in a later phase.

    Even after the introduction of the dual broadcasting system, the BBC still occupies the majority of the broadcasting frequencies, which is why only relatively few private radio and television programs are licensed.


    In the fall of 2005, the BBC announced that it would cut a total of 3,780 jobs by 2007. Savings should also be achieved by outsourcing entire program areas from the London television headquarters to Salford near Manchester; this was completed by 2011.

    In January 2007, the Department of Culture and the Media took up the proposal of the British regulator Ofcom to split the fee income between public service broadcasters and private broadcasters or producers.

    Prior to the general election on December 12, 2019 , Prime Minister Boris Johnson questioned the BBC's current funding model.

    United States

    Public broadcasting is called public broadcasting in the USA . However, the structure differs considerably from public broadcasting in other countries and corresponds more to that of free radio . Public broadcasting has been coordinated and partially financed at the national level by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) since 1969 . The CPB is a quasi-private, non-commercial company that was established by a congressional law and is largely federally funded. Its purpose is to promote public or independent broadcasting.


    There are 750 local non-commercial radio stations, coordinated by National Public Radio (NPR) as a network since 1970 . Every university has a university radio, some of which are part of the NPR network . The frequencies 88.1 and 91.9 MHz are reserved nationwide for public radio . NPR produces many of its own programs that are broadcast by member stations. The most important programs are two rush hour formats: Morning Edition and Afternoon All Things Considered .

    watch TV

    There are 354 local non-commercial television stations coordinated by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as a network . PBS does not produce any programs itself. All programs are produced by third parties, for example individual member broadcasters. There are many children's programs, the most important example being Sesame Street .


    Traditionally, 15–20% of the funds for public service broadcasting are provided by state agencies at the federal level, primarily through the CPB.

    In 2008, a total of 32% of the funds came from government agencies (14% CPB, 3% other federal grants and contracts, 15% state and local governments), 18% from companies and 50% from non-governmental agencies (including 26% membership fees / individual donations, 11 % Universities, 8% foundations, 6% others).



    In Europe, public service broadcasting traditionally dominates the national market. In the United States, radio and television emerged from private ventures, with support for individual programs being sold to companies so that they could promote their products and services to a mass audience. In many cases, these sponsors had almost complete control over the paid content so that programs such as comedies, soap operas, and sporting events should appeal to the widest possible audience. Therefore, public broadcasting only exists in niches that seem less attractive for companies as advertisers and therefore cannot be found anywhere else in the media landscape. This includes educational and cultural programs, documentaries, public and political affairs.

    An example of political influence in public service broadcasting is the government under Richard Nixon , which tried to persuade broadcasters to broadcast less controversial, conservative programs with a greater emphasis on the government view. Above all, the funds were cut in order to force the broadcasters to undertake “self-reform”. Other politicians have called in the past to end government support altogether.


    In 2003, 22 million listeners per week listened to public service radio; in 2009, more than 59 million viewers in 27 million households watched public service television per week.

    Position in society

    On the one hand, public service broadcasting is highly trusted in the United States: NPR news is the most trustworthy in the United States.

    On the other hand, public service broadcasting has suffered from financial difficulties since its inception because it does not have a stable, independent source of money. In addition, he does not find constant support in politics, "because he has always displeased the right and the left kept a distance". The Conservatives see NPR in particular as too liberal.

    Third, support from companies creates conflicts of interest. Since the advertising permitted in public broadcasting, so-called corporate underwriting (“entrepreneurial support”) covers up to a third of the program costs at PBS, companies are “inevitable censor” of the “Petroleum Broadcasting Service”.

    Other countries

    Other broadcasters around the world are listed below. Not all are purely public-law organizations, however, but are also partly financially and / or content-wise dependent on the respective state government or are organized differently.


    See also

    Web links

    United States

    Individual evidence

    1. For example, the lawyer Karl-Heinz Hille discusses in his dissertation The Law of the General Public and the Individual in Broadcasting from 1930 the problem of whether citizens acquire a basic service right through broadcasting if they pay fees. His section on the radio sovereignty of the empire and the law of the general public is headed with "Public law". The dissertation was published by Julius Springer, Berlin. P. 7. Signature Fi1788-1930 in the Berlin State Library.
    2. Editorial office of ARD publications: Basic supply. Retrieved May 11, 2021 .
    3. Stefan Brändle: TV on strike against advertising ban . In: Der Standard , February 14, 2008.
    4. a b Financial situation of television companies in the EU ( Memento of March 31, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 222 kB), European Audiovisual Observatory .
    5. EUR-Lex, Access to EU Law: Resolution of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States United in the Council of 25 January 1999 on public service broadcasting .
    6. Summary of the Commission Communication on the Application of State Aid Rules to Public Service Broadcasting (Official Journal No. C 320 of November 15, 2001)
    7. Expert opinion on public media - task and financing , PDF 316 kB
    8. BVerfGE 74, 297 .
    9., Der Rundfunkbeitrag: The new tax model for public broadcasters - international broadcasting fees from February 2, 2012
    10. Section 16 of the State Broadcasting Treaty in the version dated January 1, 2013
    11. § 16a ff. Interstate Broadcasting Treaty in the version dated January 1, 2013
    12. Expert opinion on the financing of public broadcasting, submitted on behalf of ARD, ZDF and D Radio (PDF; 540 kB)
    13. Broadcasting fees for everyone: What to expect , in: Merkur online from December 15, 2011, accessed on December 20, 2012
    14. ^ Michael Hanfeld: New broadcast contribution: Unequally treated, in: FAZ Online from December 19, 2012.
    15. ^ Decision of the Bavarian Constitutional Court of May 15, 2014 ( Memento of May 15, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
    16. Constitutional Court of Rhineland-Palatinate: Press release no. 11/2014: New regulations on broadcasting financing according to the constitution. ( Memento from December 8, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
    17. Federal Constitutional Court - Press - Norm control applications against the ZDF State Treaty mostly successful. Accessed December 31, 2020 .
    18. Online offers
    19. EU Commission: Public broadcasting compatible with European law. In:, April 24, 2007.
    20. RTL threatens ARD and ZDF in publishing collaborations. Private broadcaster wants to call legal supervision and Brussels. ( Memento from July 28, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) In: epd medien No. 20, March 12, 2008.
    21. Munich Declaration on
    22. Public broadcasting and the GEZ . Archived from the original on May 20, 2010. Retrieved June 12, 2010.
    23. Deutsche Welle: ARD: 60 years of success in Germany, accessed June 12, 2010.
    24. This is the ARD - Ten broadcasting companies: A successful community. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on November 2, 2013 ; accessed on January 13, 2015 .
    25. Prime ministers set limits on ARD and ZDF in the network. In: Spiegel Online , October 23, 2008, accessed December 20, 2008.
    26. ^ BR collective agreements for permanent employees. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on February 24, 2014 ; accessed on January 13, 2015 .
    27. Broadcasting funding: ZDF ignored the auditors' savings targets. Retrieved January 13, 2015 .
    28. Reception potential of television programs in television households in the Federal Republic of 2000 - 2004 (PDF; 133 kB) Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2010.
    29. Volker Giersch: A pair that is now rare. (PDF) Public broadcasting and youth - strategies against the generation demolition. Retrieved January 13, 2015 .
    30. Survey on trust in journalists from the Macromedia University for Media and Communication
    31. Stephan Russ-Mohl: Anchored in the left-green audience . In: Der Tagesspiegel , September 22, 2019.
    32. Brender said: “At that time, for example, I happened to find out that the then CDU General Secretary Laurenz Meyer had tried to prevent a report that was unwelcome to him by calling the editorial office. As a result, I threatened the ZDF supervisory bodies, which are known to be made up of numerous politicians, to publish further calls. After that it was quiet. ”An extension of Brender's contract was rejected by the ZDF board of directors with equal political representation; In 2010 this led to debates about the political influence of public service broadcasting.
    33. Lisa Caspari: "Conservative politicians are more brazen than others". In:, October 25, 2012.
    34. ^, October 27, 2012: Spokeswoman for Markus Söder intervened at the BR
    35. ^ NDR: New ARD program director Strobl: too close to the CDU? Retrieved September 27, 2020 .
    36. SRG Insider: Why is the expression “state television” or “public broadcaster” wrong? ( Memento from September 15, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
    37. Federal Act on Radio and Television (PDF; 593 kB), as of February 1, 2010, on
    38. ^ Royal Charter and Agreement ( Memento of July 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). In: , accessed July 18, 2008 (in the Internet Archive).
    39. BBC News, At-a-glance: BBC job cuts , March 21, 2008, accessed April 30, 2008
    40. BBC News: BBC Salford move gets green light , accessed April 30, 2008.
    41. ^ Lutz Knappmann, Peter Littger: Broadcasting money disputed across Europe . In: Financial Times Deutschland , January 22, 2008, p. 5 ( online ( memento of December 20, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) only for subscribers).
    42. Boris Johnson's attack on the BBC
    43. About CPB. Retrieved January 13, 2015 .
    44. Public Broadcasting Revenue Fiscal Year 2008. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on July 16, 2015 ; accessed on January 13, 2015 .
    45. ^ A b Public Radio in the United States: An Opinionated Report on its Economic Realities. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on May 10, 2007 ; accessed on January 13, 2015 .
    46. Mission Statement. Retrieved January 13, 2015 .
    47. Survey Says: noncom News Most Trusted. Retrieved January 13, 2015 .
    48. a b The Deadening of Public Broadcasting. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on July 15, 2011 ; accessed on January 13, 2015 .
    49. ^ NPR Admits a Liberal Bias. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on March 9, 2012 ; accessed on January 13, 2015 .