New study: Media in Germany…


Who owns the media in Germany, how do they function and how are they financed? I have been investigating these questions and examined the media landscape in our country. The result is a scientific study.

The question, how the media in Germany are set up, to whom they belong, how they function and are financed, arouses already for a long time the interest of the public, therefore I dedicated myself about a half year long to this topic and examined the medium landscape in our country. The result is a scientific study.

In addition to the print media and visual media, I also researched online media and radio in Germany. The 72-page study, which was recently presented in Turkish, also takes a critical look at the connections of journalists in Germany’s leading media with various transatlantic associations and organizations.

The study, which is also planned as a print version, will examine not only print media such as newspapers and magazines, but also audiovisual media such as radio, music, film and cinema, as well as their market data, financing, use and impact. In this context, past data will be compared with current figures and the differences that emerge will be highlighted.

Furthermore, the topics of the press in National Socialist Germany and their development during and after the Allied occupation after World War II are of particular importance.

As on a global level, the print media and the associated publishing houses are also losing readers, circulation and sales in Germany as a result of digitization. Daily newspapers, general-interest magazines and trade periodicals are currently particularly affected.

“Journalist” as a professional field not protected

There are different figures on the number of journalists in Germany. This is partly due to the fact that the job title “journalist” is not legally protected in Germany. This is because, due to the freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, which is guaranteed in Article 5 of the Basic Law, the entry into journalism in Germany is freely accessible to every person.

In addition, there are surveys in which photojournalists, employees in press offices or freelancers who make a considerable part of their living from non-journalistic activities, for example in the field of public relations (PR), are not included in the statistics. In such data collections, job titles such as “publicist”, “editor”, “writer” and “public relations officer” are not considered journalists. For this reason, the number of people in Germany who work in this segment varies, sometimes considerably.

Differences in the definition – differences in the numbers

The statistics differ depending on who is defined as a journalist there. For example, the Federal Statistical Office currently assumes that there will be around 36,000 permanent journalists employed by German media companies in 2019. Of these, 13,000 work in newspaper companies, 9,000 in magazines, 7,000 in public TV and radio and 7,000 in private TV and radio. In contrast, another statistic from the German Association of Journalists (DJV) puts the number of full-time journalists in Germany at 72,500, of whom around 43,500 work in the press. According to this survey, 13,500 permanent employees work for daily newspapers, 9,000 for magazines and advertising journals, 9,000 in public and private TV and radio. There are 4,000 journalists working for online services and in the multimedia sector, and there are about 1,000 employees in agencies and press offices.

In 2011, the German Federal Employment Agency assigned more than 160,000 employees to the journalism/journalism profession. Of these, 68,300 were listed as employees subject to social insurance contributions and 68,000 as freelancers. In addition, the DJV assumes in another statistic that there are about 40,000 freelance journalists in Germany. Other sources put the number of freelance journalists at around 9,600. Furthermore, the media sector in Germany is also important as an employer for non-journalistic activities. According to the data analysis of the “Media Worker Report”, the number of all employees in this sector rose by eleven percent between 2016 and 2018 from 497,680 to 551,799.

Despite shrinking newspaper circulations: Germany in a leading position

Germany’s role in the press is decisive – both from a European and an international perspective. Not only that Germany is the leader as the largest newspaper market in Europe, but also the fact that Germany holds the fifth largest newspaper market in the world after China, India, Japan and the USA, shows the media-political and strategic importance of our country in this field. The Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) also points out that in 2019, 327 daily newspapers with 1,452 local editions were published in Germany with a total print run of 13.5 million copies. Compared to 2017, when the total circulation of print copies in Germany was still 14.7 million, printing has lost over one million copies in just two years. In 2000, the total circulation of German daily newspapers was still 23.9 million. In less than twenty years, the circulation has fallen by over ten million copies. The main reasons for this decline can be attributed to a large extent to the transformation process of media and technological processes, changes in reading habits and digitization.

Furthermore, the BDZV points out that 17 weekly newspapers with 1.61 million copies and six Sunday newspapers with a circulation of 1.74 million exist in Germany. This means that there are 198 newspaper copies per 1,000 inhabitants over 14 years of age in Germany. It is also significant that the German newspapers reach around 66 million people or three quarters of the German-speaking population every day.

Patrons and oligarchs: Business conglomerates in family hands

As a result of the above-mentioned transformation, media houses and publishing houses, most of which are still family-owned, are investing in new business areas, media segments and mixed forms. These include cross- and multimedia, software development, telecommunications and logistics. In addition, the companies are increasingly penetrating areas such as data collection, services and education. These families and patrons are also becoming active in other areas of business through investments or takeovers. A good example of this is the corporate conglomerate Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, one of the largest media companies in the world, which has been owned and strictly controlled by the Mohn family from the Westphalian district town of Gütersloh since its foundation in 1835. Consisting of over 1200 individual companies and with over 115,000 employees worldwide, Bertelsmann is the largest media holding company in Europe. But other oligarchs, families and patriarch* such as Friede Springer and Mathias Döpfner (Axel Springer), the Bauer family (Bauer Media), Hubert Burda (Burda Media), Stefan von Holtzbrink and Monika Schoeller (Holtzbrink Verlag), the Madsack family (Madsack Verlag), the DuMont family (M. DuMont Schauberg) and many other names also belong to the circle of important players in German media companies.

8.1 billion euros in radio contributions

After the special position of the German broadcasting system has been highlighted in the study, a further chapter is devoted to the topic of online and Internet media. In 2019, for example, 8.1 billion euros in broadcasting contributions were collected in Germany. For comparison: in 2005, the total revenue was 7.1 billion euros. The fee reform for a so-called budget levy, which was pushed through under a great deal of discussion, thus seems to have achieved its effect. The proportion of Internet users aged 14 and over continued to rise in 2019. This now stands at 86 percent of the total population. Ten years earlier, the proportion of online users was still around 69 percent. Among 14 to 49-year-old Germans, almost 100 percent are now Internet users.

Industry 4.0: Digitization revolutionizes media

Digitization – as the so-called fourth industrial revolution – is leading to serious changes in the media world and mass communication. This is an important step, considering that the media are considered the fourth power alongside the legislative, executive and judicial branches in democratically constituted states.

The corona pandemic will in all probability act as a catalyst here and accelerate digitization – and not only of the media – in Germany and around the world.

Opinion contributions reflect the views of the respective author and not those of the editorial team. For inquiries please contact: [email protected]
TRT German.


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