Private television

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Private television is the colloquial term for television that is not operated by public or state broadcasters, but by privately organized companies. Like broadcasting under private law , it is produced by private broadcasters and forms the commercial , mostly advertising or subscription- financed ( pay TV ) component of the dual broadcasting system in Germany.

The opposite is the public service broadcasting , which is mainly financed by license fees - collected in Germany by the contribution service , in Austria by GIS and in Switzerland by Serafe AG .


For the operation of private television in Germany, media law requires approval from the relevant regional media agency (e.g. Section 4 (1) of the State Media Act of North Rhine-Westphalia; LMG NRW), the authorization requirements of which are regulated in Sections 5 and 6 of this Act are. The organizer must decide on one of the program categories, i.e. in particular full program or specialty program (Section 3 (2) No. 2 LMG NRW). The essential difference between public television and private television is formally that the respective state media law does not apply to public broadcasting (Section 1 (3) LMG NRW) and was therefore only created for private television. There are also serious economic differences. Public service broadcasting is mostly fee-financed and has to observe the advertising times that are limited in terms of time and program; As is the case with all companies organized under public law, the budgetary principles apply, in particular to cover expenditure through income with the aim of balancing the budget . Since the private television broadcasters are not entitled to a share of the broadcasting fees, they are mainly dependent on advertising income and / or income from customer subscriptions. The advertising times are not unlimited here either, but they are much more liberal than with public broadcasting.


Private television comes from the USA in the form known today as Commercial TV . The FCC licensed the NBC and CBS in New York on July 1, 1941, the first broadcast licenses for commercial television. As early as the afternoon of July 1, 1941, the NBC station WNBT (now: WNBC) sent its first watch advertising. After it came into force on July 30, 1954, a Television Act enabled commercial television to be approved in Great Britain, whose radio and television programming had been dominated by the public service BBC until then . The first commercial appeared in 1955 for a toothpaste, the first private channel there was the ITV company Associated Rediffusion , which has been broadcasting its weekday program since September 22, 1955.


As early as April 1, 1955, Telesaar was the first private television station in Germany. This was possible because the Saarland was not part of the Federal Republic under constitutional law until January 1, 1956 and was therefore not subject to German broadcasting sovereignty.

With the 3rd broadcast judgment of June 16, 1981 (the so-called FRAG judgment ), the Federal Constitutional Court paved the way for private broadcasting. The basis are the state media laws that are still in use today within the dual broadcasting system . After Helmut Kohl was elected Federal Chancellor in 1982 (“ spiritual and moral turn ”), the technical expansion of broadband cabling was pushed forward under the then Post Minister Christian Schwarz-Schilling .

On January 1, 1984 at 9:58 a.m., the dual broadcasting system in Germany started in Ludwigshafen am Rhein with the cable pilot project Ludwigshafen . Jürgen Doetz and the presenter Irene Joest greeted the audience from a basement studio : “Ladies and gentlemen, at this moment you are witnessing the start of the first private television broadcaster in the Federal Republic of Germany”. The program company for cable and satellite broadcasting (PKS) was founded, which one year later - in 1985 - became Sat.1 (at that time based in Mainz ).

One day after PKS and SAT.1 started broadcasting, RTL plus (now RTL Television ) began broadcasting from Luxembourg on January 2, 1984 . Since January 1, 1988, the headquarters of what is now Germany's largest private broadcaster has been in Cologne .

In 1988 Edmund Stoiber declared in writing to Franz Josef Strauss : "Our policy with regard to RTL-plus was always aimed at securing a link between RTL and the conservative camp and preventing it from sliding to the left". The initial offer of many private broadcasters was often accused of extremely low demands (example: RTL with Tutti Frutti ). However, at first it was only a matter of increasing the awareness of the new stations by almost all means; in this early phase, considerations of content took a back seat to the pure fight for market shares and audience ratings .

Today different target groups are to be addressed; in the de jure full programs, above all the advertising-relevant target group . In addition, sector programs have emerged, e.g. B. news, sports or music channels. Some private broadcasters have also established themselves at the regional level, e. B. rheinmaintv for the Rhine-Main area. In all areas, however, the offer has so far been limited to mainstream ; apparently this is the only way to earn enough money.


In Austria , the ORF had a monopoly position for decades . In the mid-1990s, the first private, local TV channels appeared in Austria's widespread cable TV networks. However, there was neither a clear legal basis for these broadcasters, nor was there a private television law for the terrestrial broadcast of TV channels. So started u. a. 1997 and 1998 in Vienna the stations “True Image Vision” ( TIV ) and Vienna 1 (W1), which could only be seen via the cable network. In January 2000 this was expanded into an Austria-wide program called ATV , which, however, was still only available via cable due to the legal situation at the time.

On August 1, 2001, the Private Television Act came into force, allowing one nationwide and three regional television programs (in Vienna, Linz and Salzburg). For the only Austrian-wide broadcasting chain that was advertised, ATV, in addition to a few other broadcasting projects, also applied, which was ultimately awarded the contract.

On June 1, 2003, ATVplus was launched as Austria's first private terrestrial broadcaster . Until then, Austria was the last country in Europe in which there was no private television that could be freely received via antenna. The Austrian music television broadcaster Gotv had already started up via cable in October 2002 . On June 21, 2004, Puls-TV finally followed in the greater Vienna area as the second terrestrial broadcasting station. The station was later sold to ProSiebenSat.1 who converted it into the new Puls 4 station, which went on air in February 2008 as the second private full program that could be received throughout Austria. In December 2007 Austria 9 TV was the fourth private broadcaster to go on air throughout Austria . Since October 1, 2009, Servus TV is a fifth private broadcaster that can be received throughout Austria. On December 1, 2011, a second ATV channel finally started. The sixth private broadcaster that can be received throughout Austria is called ATV2 .

The broadcasters are all far behind the ORF in terms of range. However, two broadcasters achieved records in 2009: Puls4 achieved a record market share of 25.1% with a Europa League game; and ATV was in prime time on November 5, with 443,000 viewers, ahead of both ORF programs, which had 300,000 and 413,000 viewers, respectively.


In Switzerland there is a weaker distinction between public and private television, as the Swiss television broadcaster, which was founded in 1953, is operated by SRG SSR under private law , albeit as part of the public service under a special license from the Federal Council .

Apart from that, the first private broadcasters emerged in the 1980s. The first went on air in 1980 in Wil (1998/9 in Tele Ostschweiz ), with local stations in Solothurn and Zug later following. The transnational business broadcaster European Business Channel was launched in 1988, although it was discontinued in 1990 due to a lack of interest. In 1992 Roger Schawinski founded TeleZüri and in October 1998 outsourced Tele24 as its own broadcaster. The media company Tamedia took over both channels and closed Tele24 in 2001, as well as its own TV3 channel, founded in 1999 . TeleZüri thus became the strongest regional broadcaster. In other regions apart from Zurich , there were other regional channels such as TeleBärn (1995) in the Bern region , Tele Tell (1994) in the Lucerne region, Tele Südostschweiz (1999) in the Chur region , Tele Top (1999) in the Frauenfeld region and TeleOstschweiz (1999) in the St. Gallen region . These regional broadcasters have been cooperating in the TeleNewsCombi advertising association since 2000. After Tele24 and TV3 ended, Star TV (1995) and VIVA Switzerland (1999, replaced by Comedy Central Switzerland in 2011 ) were the only supraregional private broadcasters that remained, but at that time with a special-interest program with a low market share. In 2006, 3 Plus TV was added nationwide.

Other niche private broadcasters are Schaffhauser Fernsehen, Aarolfinger Local TV and Tele D (formerly Tele Diessenhofen ) in Thurgau .

Financing and market shares

Most private broadcasters generate their revenue mainly from advertising income or the sale of subscriptions ( pay TV ). A small part of the broadcasters is financed through donations (e.g. Bible TV ), through teleshopping or from paid audience calls for the purpose of televoting or through call-in competitions (e.g. 9Live ). Since the advertising income can not be increased at will due to the legal limitation of commercial breaks , private broadcasters must try to increase the income per minute of advertising of a commercial by increasing the audience and audience figures . Because the same commercial generates higher income for a station with a high audience rating than for a station with a lower rating. In all states with private television, this has led to a focus on audience ratings that had previously played no role in public television as a monopoly . In this way, new program formats were introduced ( soap operas , infotainment , reality TV , breakfast TV ) that were supposed to help increase audience ratings.

Private television in Europe

See also


  • Eric Karstens, Jörg Schütte: Praxishandbuch Fernsehen. How TV channels work. VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2005. ISBN 3-531-14505-3
  • Hanko Bommert, Andrea Voß-Frick: Facts and Images: Interviews in the dual system of German television. LIT-Verlag, Münster 2005. ISBN 3-8258-8366-3

Web links

Wiktionary: Private television  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Privatfernsehen, accessed on October 21, 2013
  2. 20 minutes per working day and not after 8 p.m.
  3. 12 minutes per hour; the restriction of at least 20 minutes of programming between the commercials no longer applies with the 13th Amendment to the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty.
  4. BVerfGE 57, 295
  5. Frankfurter Rundschau, quoted from RÜCKSPIEGEL quotations, DER SPIEGEL 44/1988
  6. a b c Private television in Switzerland. In: Medialexikon Schweiz. Burda News Group, accessed January 28, 2012 .