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Space on the remote control: ARD and ZDF ahead of RTL and Sat.1

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The media authorities have determined which broadcasters are in the top spots. Public service offers end up ahead of private broadcasters.

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The media authorities have published the “Public Value” offers, which in future should be given priority on Smart TVs and electronic program guides. It is now clear which offers from the areas of moving images, audio and telemedia must be easy to find on user interfaces such as electronic program guides (EPGs) on smart TVs, for example. The state media authorities published the corresponding list of “public value” stations and services on Thursday. These are “contribution-financed programs” as well as private stations “that make a special contribution to the diversity of opinion and offers in Germany” or record regional windows.

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The obligation to give preference to these offers with public added value goes back to the media state treaty (MStV) of the federal states. During the selection process, 325 applications were received by the responsible state authority for media (LfM) North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). According to the media authorities, “a decision was made unanimously” about this “after the inspection within the framework of a test group by the Commission for Approval and Supervision (ZAK) as the responsible body.

On June 1, 2022, the non-state institutions sent the notifications to the applicants to strengthen the diversity of opinion and offers. The media watchdogs waited almost four months before publishing the relevant list in order to take into account possible contradictions and publish a legally binding list. Admission to the Public Value Club is initially valid for three years.

In the end, around 250 offers made it onto the six-page overview, with the majority coming from the radio sector. The alphanumeric list ranges from 104.6 RTL Berlin’s hit radio to the queer radio station Lulu.fm and Radio Fantasy to the television stations Welt and Westwald-Wied TV.

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In addition, there is a recommendation from the media authorities for “sequence listings” sorted according to the three media types covered. According to the media watchdog, this is the result of the agreement reached with the providers of the legally determined contribution-financed programs ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio, which were considered to be on the list from the outset. After the first and second, RTL, Sat.1, ProSieben and Vox should follow in third to sixth place, ahead of the respective third program from the ARD group. 14th place is reserved for “Bild” and 32nd place for Pluto TV.

The display of the local and regional moving image offers in the container at the end of the listing should be geolocalized at the level of administrative districts or comparable regional units, as can be seen from the guide. The same applies to all audio offers. The media libraries of ARD and ZDF should be displayed first in the telemedia. The streaming service RTL+ only appears in the lower ranks.

The result reflects “the strengths of both parts of the dual system in Germany”, emphasized Tobias Schmid, director of the LfM NRW. The extensive lists are “not least proof of the quality of our private offers,” added Thorsten Schmiege, President of the Bavarian State Center for New Media (BLM). It is expected that the guidelines will now “be implemented by everyone in a timely manner”. In the State Media Treaty, a period of six months is provided for here, insofar as this is technically and economically feasible.

The implementation of the specifications is “not trivial because each user interface has different requirements,” Andrea Huber, managing director of the broadband and cable network operator association Anga, explained to voonze online. “It’s less about the number of offers and more about how findability is implemented.” It is therefore important that the media authorities “grant sufficient flexibility in the implementation of practical details”. A broad economic alliance had stormed against the country plans in 2019. It complained, for example, that consumers were being patronized and feared that existing market positions would be cemented.


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