Hamburg, Germany is a media hub. While we were there with the Transatlantic Outreach Program we visited ARD, Germany’s largest public broadcaster. The organization has a budget of about 7 billion Euros, generated mostly through a license fee paid by all German residents, companies, and city governments. ARD relies very little on commercials. In fact, after 8pm commercials don’t even air on the station.
ARD was founded after World War II in an effort to keep news independent and decentralized. The goal was to ensure news broadcasting can’t be influenced by the state and ARD remains completely independent. Freedom of the press is a big deal in Germany and guaranteed by the German constitution.
Because ARD is a consortium of public broadcasters its motto is, “We Are One.”
We were lucky enough to get a full tour of ARD in Hamburg. But, we were unable to see the set of its news program, Tagesschau. The set was redesigned a few years ago and the focus is on the news and not on the broadcaster so a giant media wall dominates the space. The robotic apparatus that controls the wall and set components is dangerous so we weren’t allowed behind the scenes.
We were able to see the tools used to produce Tagesschau, including the news line-up.
We also had a peek into the newsroom. ARD has 150 editors and 45 correspondents.
On this day they were watching the news come in from CNN on the Capitol Hill baseball shooting.
ARD follows the rule of 2 independent sources when reporting national and international news.
For more information on freedom of press in Germany check out Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House.