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...And out of nothing Germany created Europe's largest television market.

Death and rebirth followed one another in seamless continuity on the first of the year, as the former East German DFF (Deutscher Fernseh Funk) went out of business and was replaced by the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR), which is headquartered in Leipzig.

The new network, along with the ODR (Ostdcutscher Rundfunk), based in Berlin, is integrated into German broadcaster, ARD. This raises the number of ARD member stations to 11.

The combination, merging the 26 million West German TV households with the six million in East Germany, has created the largest television market in Europe.

The North German TV network (NDR), itself a member of the ARD broadcast group, has established a station in the new state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommem, which means that ARD now covers all five of the new Federal states.

ZDF, the other German public broadcaster, also transmits to the East Germans, via terrestrial frequencies.

All this is bitterly opposed by the private stations-Sat 1, RTL Plus and Tele 5-who feel that the government is giving what they see as preferential treatment of stations with terrestrial frequencies in the East. Still, Sat 1 and RTL Plus reach some 60 per cent of all East German households, via direct-to-home satellite dishes aimed at the Astra 1B satellite.

Meanwhile, the disposition of the old Communist GDR television network proceeds apace, though perhaps a little slower than the achievement of all-German political unity.

A liquidation company was set up to dismantle the real estate and other assets of the former state-owned East German broadcast media, including film rights, film libraries, copyrights, archives and the like. According to the unification treaty, the assets of the former DFF plus its headquarters, the Funkhaus, are to be divided up among the states.

The ARD-owned Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv in Frankfurt am Main will take over the DFF libraries, with over 40 years of GDR radio and television programming in the library. It seems inevitable that many of the former East German personnel will be pink-slipped since it was customary in Communist states to over-staff the state-owned installations.

Also up for sale is the former East German broadcast facility Adlershof, in East Berlin. It houses 11 studios and production and dubbing equipment.

The Bonn government seeks to cable all of Germany, and has extended its relevant ambitions to the German east. Plans call for the cabling of two million East German households by the end of this year.

The dual system, implemented by the government, means the coexistence of public (thriving on a monthly fee, plus restricted commercials) and private TV stations (no fee but lots of commercials) also applies to the new lander.
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Author:Kocian, Billy
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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