Mapping Digital Media: Germany

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The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.

On November 25, 2008, Germany completed the transition from analog to digital terrestrial television transmission. In 2012, all analog satellite reception will cease. Digitization of broadcasting has increased the choice of both public and private television channels and has led to an increasing acceptance of terrestrial transmission overall, which had been declining.

German society is famously supportive of public service broadcasting, which is seen not as a service of or for the state, but as a public service. The latest research suggests that public broadcasters are seen as more informal, modern, and entertaining than before, without having lost their traditional reputation for quality. Younger people agree that public broadcasters have more credibility, but they think that private broadcasters are more likeable.

There have been no digitization-based amendments to media concentration laws. The effects of digitization on the practice of journalism are ambiguous. On the one hand, journalists have many more sources, can investigate issues faster and in much more detail, and interact with their audience. On the other hand, journalism faces new, nonprofessional or semiprofessional competitors, has lost its gatekeeper monopoly, and can no longer rely on its traditional business model.

Looking ahead, digitization will continue to deliver greater plurality and diversity as traditional media lose their dominant market positions in news selection and interpretation. Meanwhile, the strong consensus in support of public service media—and support for quality journalism—should offset the negative effects of the digital revolution on journalism standards. This puts Germany in a fortunate position, not just by global standards but by European standards.