Commercial and public broadcasters

A person looks at a TV screen.
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How many hours a day do you sit in front of the television? And what do you like to watch? In Germany, adults spend an average of four hours a day watching television. Surveys suggest that news is the first viewing choice for almost 50 percent of people over the age of 14. Crime thrillers are the next most popular. "Tatort", Germany’s top police drama on the public channel ARD, draws nine million viewers every Sunday evening.

In Germany, people distinguish between public and commercial broadcasters. The two main public channels are ARD, whose television program is called "Das Erste", and ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen). The law says that public television should contribute to free, open and independent opinion. It is to be free of state control. This is why it is funded not through taxes but through public broadcasting fees, which each household has to pay on a monthly basis.

Commercial television is funded through advertising. The most popular commercial television broadcasters are RTL, SAT1, and Pro7. But you don't need to own a TV to watch TV anymore. Most channels now use live internet streaming as well as offering programs for download with "on-demand" or "catch-up" services. A lot of people also pay for streaming services to watch movies or series online.