A specialty program (also specialty channel or target group program ) is a radio or television program in media law that specializes in specific topics and broadcast formats. Typical special- interest programs are offered, for example, by the music and news channels in the television sector or by the top 40 radio stations in the USA, whose airplay is limited to the current hits from the hit parade . The opposite is the full program .
Branch programs have their origins in the USA. The private radio stations there initially began broadcasting full programs before the first began in 1951 to broadcast exclusively the current hit parade. This idea spread nationwide and was named Top40-Radio because the stations focused on broadcasting the top 40 ranks of the charts. Television discovered this specialization for itself and developed pure news channels ( CNN International in June 1980), weather stations ( The Weather Channel ; July 1980) or music channels such as MTV (August 1981).
Since private broadcasting was approved in Germany in January 1984, these special-interest broadcasters, known as “ format radio ”, have also existed here . Today, format radio is characterized by “sophisticated, perfectly tested and absolutely interchangeable” music programs, which can only be distinguished by the jingles with the station ID that are repeated - at least every quarter of an hour . It is an "accompanying medium that maintains its basic structure and character at all broadcast times".
Situation in Germany
Media law provisions
Special-interest program is a media law term that has been used in Germany since 1984 to describe the typical program offerings of a radio or television broadcaster that specializes in certain topics and / or target groups. The regional media laws differentiate between several program categories, which in particular include full and specialty programs (e.g. Section 3 (2) No. 2 LMG NRW). A private radio or television broadcaster must decide when applying for approval ("broadcasting license") whether it wants to offer a full or specialty program. Since the public broadcasters are largely excluded from the state media laws, this regulation does not apply to them. The state media laws do not define the terms full and specialty program; The Interstate Broadcasting Treaty contains a legal definition for this . According to this, a “special-interest program is a radio program with essentially the same content” (Section 2 (2) No. 4 RStV). This separates the specialty program from the full program, in which culture, information and education, among other things, are compulsory. According to the Federal Constitutional Court , thematic channels are "programs that specialize in certain types of information, education or entertainment, ... are only aimed at a limited group of participants and are also limited in terms of topic, so that they do not in themselves enable comprehensive information and opinion-forming."
Most of the German radio and television broadcasters have special interest programs. The state media authorities differentiate between the following categories of special-interest programs: information / documentation, children, music, news, sport, entertainment and other. Due to the digital distribution channels , the range of specialty programs, especially in pay TV , has increased significantly in recent years.
TV channels with special interest programs (selection)
Situation in Austria
In Austria , the term “specialty program” is defined as “a broadcasting program with essentially the same content” in accordance with Section 2, Paragraph 18 of the Private Television Act (PrTV-G) and in the German State Broadcasting Treaty.
The following special-interest programs are currently on television in Austria:
The Austrian versions of the German private broadcasters are not officially typed in Austria, as they are only approved by the supervisory broadcasting company and Telekom Regulierungs-GmbH as window programs of the program providers licensed in Germany. The license is granted separately for satellite and cable broadcasting. In Austria, they are therefore neither full nor specialty programs.
Situation in Switzerland
In Switzerland there is no distinction between full and specialty programs. In the publications published by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), the broadcasters rate themselves. In the mandatory reporting form, which the program organizers must send to OFCOM, a distinction is made between program hours (fewer or more than 12 program hours), distribution area, type of distribution and program budget. The Swiss program windows of the German program organizers are not officially classified as such, but are referred to as such in OFCOM's publications.
- Ben Fong-Torres, The Hits Just Keep on Coming , 2001, p. 37 ff.
- Ines Hoffmann, Radiogeschichten , 2005, p. 121
- Robert Sturm / Jürgen Zirbik, Radio Station , 1996, p 143 f.
- quoted on Nina Klippel, Is the basic service still guaranteed by public broadcasting? , 2009, p. 9
- Official website of RTR: Database of television broadcasters