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Video Age award for best TV in Germany to ZDF.

"Avast wasteland" is how a leading German TV program distributor characterized German television. But, when pressed for a specific answer, he said that ARD suited his "taste and mood of the moment," as Germany's best station. ARD was also the choice for both Andrea Kreuzhage and Thomas Honenacker of Telecast. All three executives put ZDF in second place.

Journalists, though, tend to prefer ZDF. Indeed, reporters at both the daily Frankfurter Rundschau and the TV Horen und Sehen said that ZDF is their favorite network. But, at the trade magazine Medien Bulletin, an editor's best bet was ARD. Among non-German TV executives, preference ranged from ZDF (Italy), ARD's third programs (Austria), Sat-1 (Switzerland), and RTL plus (USA).

Back in Germany some people at the radio station Antenne Bayern like RTL Plus as does a Frison viewer from Hannover. But then a Burda's journalist from Berlin brings us back to ZDF.

Even though ARD has its good supporters, the network counts an unusual number of detractors. A major complaint about ARD is that its buying arm Degeto's managing director, Peter Heimes, is "unapproachable." Plus, the fact that ARD has a close relationship with only one major U.S. studio, makes its program mix too uniform for some analysts.

While ARD reaches 67.34 million potential viewers and ZDF only 55.066 million, the latter commands two per cent more for a 30-second spot indicating a preference toward ZDF by the ad community.

This is supported by the fact that recently ARD lost 20 per cent of ad revenues, while ZDF generated 22 per cent more than ARD.

In addition, ZDF with its large offices in the U.S. and field offices in 21 world capitals, has developed close relationships with international broadcasters, which is reflected in what some consider a cosmopolitan programming schedule.

ZDF'S international outlook is also shown in its partnerships in the Franco-German cultural channel ARTE, and 3-SAT in cooperation with Austria's ORF and Switzerland's SRG. This in addition to co-production deals with CapCities/ABC in the U.S. and NHK in Japan. With production and co-production of 176 MOWs in 1991, ZDF is considered Europe's largest producer of drama. ZDF also excels in international marketing and sales, at par with the most aggressive private German enterprises.

The advent of private television has eroded over three per cent of the ARD audience, but less than two per cent of ZDF's. Indeed, of the 20 highest rated shows in 1991, 13 were on ZDF, with the remaining seven on ARD.

ZDF's domestic and international commitments are said to be unsurpassed. With the collapse of East Germany's social structure, ZDF had the responsibility of adding six broadcasting centers in that region, many more than ARD. Plus, ZDF's director general Dieter Stolte has been a director of the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New York for years, while ARD has just joined. To top it all, recently ZDF is said to have forged an independent path, lessening its dependence on the Kirch Group.

Few Germans have shown a preference for private stations, which were sidestepped toward third place in the case of RTL Plus.

In conclusion, one has to assume that ZDF could be considered Germany's best TV station not only for its quality, scheduling, program mix, international presence and advertisers' preference, but also for its innovative outlook and challenging approach.
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Publication:Video Age International
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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