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German broadcaster ARD may close down linear channels

The Berlin-based headquarters of German public media broadcaster ARD. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The Berlin-based headquarters of German public media broadcaster ARD. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Germany’s public broadcast network ARD will soon finalize a plan to shut down some of its linear channels in the country.

This week, a spokesperson for ARD said the strategy should be finalized by the end of this year as the broadcaster works through various contractual obligations with local broadcasters and state governments who retransmit its programming.

ARD operates as a joint venture with nine regional broadcasters serving different parts of Germany, including Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) in Munich, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) in Hamburg and Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk  (MDR) in Leipzig. Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, is also a member.

Those broadcasters have contracts with ARD to provide programming and technical support for their regional television stations. ARD is currently working through those deals to prioritize the shut-down of some linear channels as part of a broader cost-savings strategy, with programming shifted toward digital platforms.

Earlier this year, ARD Chairman Kai Gniffke revealed the broadcaster planned to shut down at least one linear channel, but did not offer further specifics.

ARD already operates several digital channels, including ARD One (entertainment), Tagesschau 24 (news) and the educational network ARD-Alpha. The channels are mainly available on streaming services, but also offered on cable in some areas.

As in other European countries, ARD is primarily funded through a tax imposed on German households with television sets. The tax, called a license, costs €18.40 per month (about $19.50 per month) and is billed to each TV viewing household on a quarterly basis.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said three channels operated by ARD were exclusive to digital platforms. The channels are available on digital streaming services, and also some cable TV platforms.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).