Remember....I don't write for the pleasure of a German....I simply note observations as a non-German and it's mostly non-Germans that read my essay at their pleasure.
State-run television is a curious thing thing in Germany. If you own a television....you are supposed to pay roughly 17 Euro a month which covers the cost of running more or less....twenty channels and a number of public radio stations.
If you go and bring up the topic of the state-run networks and the general perception by Germans....it goes from one extreme through a maze of goofy and peculiar features, to another extreme. A handful of people....probably less than five-percent will say their 17 Euro a month is buying premium service. The rest will just grumble and say that something needs to change.
So, my observations:
1. If you toss the twenty channels together....you'd describe the outcome as being something of a combination of the Discovery Channel. PBS, Animal Planet, BBC, and ESPN-lite. Toss in some intellectual themes, a bit of political chat forum commentary, some murder-mystery-cop movies, some predictable romance dramas, game-shows on knowledge only, and some National Geographic episodes....and you have the common thread of the twenty channels.
2. Between the 8PM and 9:45PM news episodes.....there's at least two US news items nightly....of which the general batting average is 35-percent positive, 20-percent neutral, and 45-percent negative (my humble numbers). Germans are fairly shocked that Americans don't get the same dosage of German national news and can't understand why Americans don't care more about Germany.
3. It's hard to find anyone under the age of twenty-five who watches more than one hour a month of state-run TV. Most watch the commercial channels, or get a data stream via Netflix. The state-run TV 'mafia' is disturbed about this and say they are going to invest a ton of Euro on making a new network which the younger generation will watch. No one predicts much success with this except intellectuals, political folks, and the TV management folks. Maybe they ought to ask why, but that's not important.
4. One of the nightly things that appear on one of the state-run channels is a twenty-year-old episode of the nightly news. No one says much about the viewership. Personally, I doubt if more than 2,000 Germans watch this or care about it. Luckily, they kept a copy of each nightly news episode from decades ago, and it doesn't cost anything to run it again.
5. Each of the German states has their own regional network. This is the ONLY vehicle in video fashion that you might get regional or state news from. If they decide it's news....it's news. If they decide it's not news....it gets no air-time. Other than your local paper......you might not be finding out much about the crime, or waste of tax-payer money, or political corruption.
6. Altogether, in an average week from the twenty channels.....you could get around forty hours of political chat, from the left, the right, the center, and the 'otherwise'. If you kept a headcount, I'd take a guess that you might be able to view around 3,000 political figures from across Germany in an average year. Democracy needs a filter.....to soften the amount of nonsense and lunacy dished out.
7. Every year on Hiroshima day (the day that the city got nuked).....there's at least an hour of conversation over the terrible thing that the US did. The central theme is to avoid history, dump on the US, and note the the wonderful behavior of Germany and it's innocence in the modern world. It makes people happy when they watch this. I doubt if they ever get more than 500,000 of eighty-million Germans to watch it.
8. The chief thing you tend to notice after a while is that no one talks about the salary level of the state-run TV empire or how many people it takes to run the operation.....which gets into the billions, but it's best not to mention this in public.
9. The intellectual crowd will say that the public needs state-run TV because this is the only way to ensure a competent and intelligent public. Needless to say.....there's never been a study to prove this, or any statistical coverage to back up the legendary 'anchor' of TV being a cornerstone of German society.
10. Things reached a stage several years ago when the intellectual crowd and the management of state-run TV began to realize that people were quitting viewership of regular TV. Data-streaming was catching on and the youth of Germany has very little interest in continuing the 17 Euro a month on taxation. So they invented or reinvented the TV tax to be a media tax. If you just own a laptop or computer.....NOT a TV....well, you still have to pay the tax because you might data-stream the state-run TV from their server.. Note, they never provide statistical data on how much ever gets downloaded from their server, and some people wonder if it's really being used.
Huffed up and angry as a German over my comments? Well....sit down and ask a twenty-something old German what they watch and why they don't watch more state-run TV. Then ask if this 200-odd Euro a year is really a wise choice or investment on the part of that young person.