If you've sat around and viewed state-run/public-TV (ARD or ZDF) in Germany for a couple of years....you tend to reach some observation that they are an intellectually-based group. Some Americans might ask why? So, this is the somewhat difficult story to tell of how they ended up this way.
For those who weren't aware.....Germans (out of Strasbourg) were the first individuals in Europe to have a weekly newspaper....in 1605. By 1650, the folks down in Leipzig were the first to have a daily newspaper in Europe. The Hidesheimer Courier is today the oldest continuing newspaper in Germany (been around since 1705).
What you tend to find from this 1605-era to 1919....is that newspaper flourished and surivived in their respected states because they limited criticism of leadership....either at the city, state, or in the case of Prussia....over the Kaiser or the Prussian military leadership.
You could print various stories over factual events, new innovation, crime, etc.....but there was always a line where if you criticized political figures....you were dragged either into court or were simply had your print authority revoked.
You can go back to the late 1800s when some Prussian Army events occurred in Alsace-Lorraine, and various German newspapers attempted to pin some criticism on the Prussian Army, as a defining moment (criticism throughout Germany for several decades had been going on, very quietly).
After 1919, newspapers suddenly found themselves in a new and fertile environment. While the Weimar Republic existed....it was weak and inffective. Various newspapers got routinely into political news, and this created a new public news environment.
By the early 1930s....radio arrived and with Nazi Party.....both devices (print-media and radio) became an often used tool of the Nazi Party.
It would be safe to say that if the war hadn't gone the way it did....that German state-run TV in the 1940s would have been mostly a propaganda machine.
At the conclusion of WW II....things changed. The Allies took charge of the public media device that existed.....the Reich Broadcasting Company (RRG). Two councils were created....one to handle content and one to mange infrastructure. In 1947, General Clay (the military governor of West Germany) set up standard policy for radio and television. A British intellectual by the name of Hugh Greene, came in to form up the northern division, and his input has a lot to do with the way that things are organized today. It should be noted....Hugh's brother was Graham....the writer.
The general concept of the TV empire was that a tax would be collected by the nation, and put into a pot....which the board of governors would disperse, and run the TV/radio empire. They had no concern over whether people watched the products shown or not.....since commercials were not part of the system.
The chief focus of the original TV network? Culture, knowledge, information, light entertainment, etc. It was not going to feature heavy-handed comedy, or anything that you tended to see with the US networks.
When Channel Two arrived in the 1960s? Same conditions. Intellectual thought and management was the four corners of success for the two networks....as far as they were concerned.
In the 1980s....came commercial TV...something that rattled the cages of the state-run/public-TV complex. RTL was seen as a threat. Oddly, RTL and the other networks that came in this period of growth...had zero interest in culture, intellectualism, or information. They were there to entertain (boobies, cop shows, and all).
You can look at the state-run/public-TV crowd, and say that they are proud of their intellectual standards. You can also note about every twelve months, they get caught in some fiasco or corrupt moment, when they seem to have lost their moral compass or intellectual wit. It's worth saying that they aren't perfect. They do try hard though.
The need for the intellectual gimmick? It's embedded in their system...the public-TV crowd can't survive without it.
Is the public sentiment waning? Yes. That's one of the things you will notice. Folks hate the TV-media tax to some degree, and there are a growing number of Germans who don't use TV any longer (going to Netflix). The younger crowd represents a threat to the intellectual crowd. You can figure in about ten to fifteen years....enough voters will exist to halt the media-tax. The intellectual crowd is somewhat intimidated by this thought, and trying hard to create media devices that the youth will watch and appreciate public TV. So far, I have my doubts that this innovation or creation will work.
If intellectual TV is defeated or forced to commercialize? It's best not to bring this scenario up. It just makes intellectuals get all hyped up and shake their heads over these silly non-intellectuals.