Öffentlich-Rechtliche – Die schwindende Vielfalt im öffentlich-rechtlichen Fernsehen

Eingebetteter Medieninhalt

Als alles noch besser war: das alte Logo der ARD

I admit it: In order to discuss the current public broadcasting media offering within a discursive framework, it was necessary to greatly downplay the problem in the headline. To put it bluntly, the two main channels have completely shifted their focus to two main areas: promoting woke lifestyles in a general sense and an extent of harmlessness that seriously threatens to compete with sleeping pill manufacturers. The targeted audience seems to only exist in two states: a) obedient youth with a strong affinity for wokeness and good education, b) fans of DIY stores, game shows, and similar instant entertainment. Also, it is impossible to overlook, compared to 2013 or even 2017: the increasing preference for short formats – likely due to budget constraints as well as the assumed maximum attention spans of the targeted audience(s).

Das Angebot

Is everything exaggerated? The header slot of the ARD-Mediathek recommended the following selection on the afternoon of September 17th.

Motorsägen Masters (Game-Show)
Die Sendung mit der Maus (Kinderprogramm)
Das große Menschenraten mit Aurel Mertz (Game-Show)
Tod den Lebenden (Dramedy-Miniserie)
50 Jahre König | Carl Gustav von Schweden (Infosendung; 10 Minuten)
Slava der Hund (Miniserie für Kinder)
Ingo Zamperoni: Mein Italien unter Meloni (Reportage)
Deutsche Schuld: Namibia und der Völkermord (Reportage)
Haftbefehl gegen Enissa Amani – Der AfD-Streit geht weiter (Jugend-Talk)

Die Konkurrenz vom ZDF hielt dagegen mit:

30 Minuten oder weniger (TV-Thriller; mit Altersfreischaltung; ab 16)
Wir (Drama-Serie)
Better Call Saul (Drama-Serie)
Sugar (Spielfilm)
37 Grad Leben: Risse in unserer Gesellschaft (Dokureihe)
ZDF Magazin Royale (Satire)
ZDFbesseresser – Lege packt aus (Verbrauchertest-Sendung)
Pure (Dramedy-Serie)
Katie Melua: From the Rivoli Ballroom (Live-Concert)

Die Auswertung

The listed program selection is remarkable in several ways. On one hand, the main bar in the window of each media library only contains a relatively small selection of available shows. On the other hand, the info bar is the showcase of each respective channel. Considering that a personalized selection is not excluded and the slot content changes every minute, it presents what the respective channel highlights as „particularly worth watching“.

Let’s move on to the general characterization. Personally – tastes may vary here – I have categorized it into three groups: „woke“ (as a keyword for shows that focus on identity-related or lifestyle-related topics), „spießig“ (as a characterization for shows that cater to an extremely normal audience – or the ideas that the broadcasters have about such an audience), and „informativ“ (informative). Some of the listed shows naturally fit into these categories. Because the indicators were so clear, I left it at that for these shows. The evaluation: four out of the total eighteen shows fall under the category of „spießig“ and three under the category of „informativ“. Five shows are dedicated to spreading or bringing closer the woke lifestyle; the remaining six out of the total eighteen shows could not be assigned to any of the three categories.

Bei den »woken« Programmen stechen vor allem die Serien hervor. Um Tod den Lebenden und Wir mit Gewinn konsumieren zu können, ist es geradezu zwingend vonnöten, vorab bereits gedanklich im Kosmos dieser Denkensart zuhause zu sein. Auf fällt bei den zwei »woken« Miniserien eine weitere Eigenheit: die vergleichsweise kurze Dauer der einzelnen Folgen (bei Wir: durchschnittlich 20 Minuten à Folge, bei den sechs Folgen von Tod den Lebenden: immerhin 20 bis 30 Minuten). Inhaltlich auffällig: die fast ausschließliche Fokussierung auf Beziehungen, inszenatorisch die auf Innenraum-Aufnahmen und Dialoge.

It can hardly be denied that this „woke“ lifestyle is being portrayed with cost-cutting measures. Additionally, the lack of a serious plot is noticeable – as if the Smartphone generation has forgotten what a narrative arc even is. The accompanying informational formats also focus on reducing attention – such as the ten-minute segment on the Swedish royal family. The talk shows aimed at a youthful audience also remain superficial. Particularly frustrating is the ZDF series „37 Grad Leben,“ which, regardless of the topic being discussed, is constructed in a way that two opposing opinions meet in a harmonious middle ground. The topics revolve around the general theme of „wokeness,“ including an episode explicitly centered on it.

Sometimes you can find a show in the headline bar that tempts you to watch without disappointment. Ingo Zamparoni’s report on Italy doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it still provides an impression of how Italians view their newly appointed prime minister. Additionally, the current offering from ZDF includes a high-quality series: Better Call Saul. Although it is a repeat, it is a repeat in an environment where any change is appreciated.

Furthermore, it is noticeable that the (still) more woke of the two public broadcasters is ARD. This mainly concerns the proportion of programs that are clearly dedicated to this particular type of mission. While ZDF also has a number of embarrassing outliers (especially with the youth channel outlet neo), overall it seems that Mainz takes the factor of (not quite as profound) entertainment more seriously than the federative broadcasting network.

This article does not aim to evaluate or discuss the value of certain TV programs or formats. Instead, the author simply wants to illustrate how the programs offered by public broadcasters‘ media libraries work in practice. The third member of this media library alliance, arte, has intentionally been excluded from this discussion. The reason for this is that arte, as the last remaining cultural niche within the overall public broadcasting network, is difficult to compare with the offerings of the other two media libraries. As a tip, for those who are frustrated with mainstream programming or cannot find what they are looking for on the main channels, arte offers a repeat of the Danish cult series Borgen, which spans four seasons and helps to forget any major frustrations. Another advantage of arte is that its age rating, which requires patience and advanced IT skills for the other two main broadcasters, has been implemented in a less complicated manner in the case of arte.