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Deutsche Welle looks to rival BBC, Al Jazeera with new English channel

Deutsche Welle news presenter Sumi Somaskanda appears in front of a video wall during a broadcast of the channel's flagship "DW News" program. (Photo: Deutsche Welle)
Deutsche Welle news presenter Sumi Somaskanda appears in front of a video wall during a broadcast of the channel’s flagship “DW News” program. (Photo: Deutsche Welle)

Deutsche Welle has revamped their English-language news coverage with a new channel that aims to challenge the standing of other world news outlets.

“DW English” will offer news and informational programming around the clock online, by satellite and through a consortium of partner broadcasters around the world.

It will be the first time Deutsche Welle has broadcast a full schedule of just English-language programs. Previously, the broadcaster aired English programs alongside other language variants on regional-specific channels.

“We believe that people are very interested in Germany,” Peter Limbourg, Deutsche Welle’s director general, said in a statement. “The new channel allows us more scope to meet demand for information from Germany.”

The new channel comes with a redesigned set and presentation style for Deutsche Welle’s flagship news program “Journal,” which has been renamed “DW News.” Officials at the channel said DW News will deliver reports from a wide variety of correspondents stationed at Deutsche Welle’s bureaus in Washington, Moscow, Cairo, New Delhi and elsewhere around the world.

Deutsche Welle will also prioritize engagement online, particularly on social media. “Compared to our competitors, we have some catching up to do, in particularly in the social media sector,” Carsten von Nahmen, Deutsche Welle’s head of news and current affairs, said. Von Nahmen said online editors will use social media to discover trending topics that are later reported on via Deutsche Welle’s website and on-air channels.

“We want to single out new topics before other broadcasters do,” Von Nahmen said, adding that he believed the addition of trending topics to Deutsche Welle’s news coverage would “help us score with the viewers.”

The international news space is already occupied by a slew of commercial and external public broadcasters, the most notable of which include Britain’s BBC Wold News, Qatar’s Al Jazeera and the commercial channel CNN International. Deutsche Welle is believed to have carved out a small audience that pales in comparison to those of the larger broadcasters, although its Arabic-language news channel has proved popular in the Middle East and Africa.

Deutsche Welle’s new English channel begins airing Monday and can be watched on free-to-air satellite throughout the world and via an online stream. Certain programs from the channel will also be available on some public broadcast stations throughout the United States.

Deutsche Welle is operated by Germany’s public broadcaster ARD. It began broadcasting television services in 1992; it launched a single 24-hour channel four years later. The broadcaster claimed in 2013 to reach 100 million people around the world.

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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).