Gallery: Germany 

14 June 2001

ARD Erstes Deusches Fernsehen

National channel with local opt-outs – Licence fee & advertising.

The famous thing about German public television, of course, is that the advertisements that supplement the licence fee usually are not scattered throughout the day, but are instead located in a time frame in the early evening from 17:50 to 20:00 where ARD’s regional opt-outs are running. Within this frame there are five or six commercial breaks with a maximum grand total of 20 minutes. Since the 1990s commercials are also shown during sports events in the morning or afternoon (e.g. Olympic Games or Football World Cup), but the restrictions still apply: max. 20 minutes, not after 20:00, not on Sundays.

Please, no-one tell the UK’s ITV about this.

ARD opt-out ident on N3

ARD1 regional opt-outs ident



Watch the logos splitting apart to reveal the title sequence of Sportschau.

The logo animation sequence of “Erstes Deutsches Fernsehen – ARD” in use since 1 October 1984 up to the early 1990s. The logos of the ARD members are joining to form the number “1”.

The clip here shows the reverse – the logos splitting apart to reveal the title sequence of Sportschau.

ARD ident

NDR opt-out of ARD1

The ARD stations are interconnected by a star-shaped network with it’s switching centre at HR in Frankfurt. The ARD stations feed their productions for the network via the star net to Frankfurt where it is distributed to all ARD members to feed the transmitters.

Yes, even the feeding station is taking the signal returning from Frankfurt for its transmitters. In the “good old days” before the introduction of the computer animated “1” this switching was performed as follows: The old ARD eye logo was shown, an off-announcer said e.g. “We switch over to Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Hamburg”, fade to black, the switchover could be noticed by the appearance of the VBI on screen, fade to local announcer.

In 1984, the off-announcement was replaced by animation sequences where the 1 is turning 180° and morphing into the regional station logo, as seen in this clip coming out of the Tagesschau news.

ARD announcer ARD announcer ARD announcer

The program announcing was done by the regional station the network was switched to, so many announcers could be seen nationwide.

Although ARD started to standardize the appearance of “Das Erste” in the 1980s many regulations were rather loose as you can see in the background.

The examples are from SFB, SWF, and SDR (or was it SDR and SWF?).

This clip shows the last gentleman giving a rundown of programmes later, then handing back to Frankfurt for the Tagesschau.

SWF/SDR regional programme end cap SWF announcer on ARD local opt-out

A regular regional opt-out of SDR and SWF on “1”, recognisable by the words “mit Werbefernsehen” (“with commercials”).

To relax the commercial breaks the public channels used to show short (about 2 secs) cartoon clips between each commercial.

In the 1990s this tradition slowly died out but is still continued in the opt-out of Hessischer Rundfunk (HR) with it’s mascot Onkel Otto (“Uncle Otto”).

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Onkel Otto plays football - supplied by Dirk Tust

Normally, the Onkel Otto clips are often related to the previous commercial (coffee, ice cream, alcohol etc.), but here we have a rare case of a “forward relation”.

On Saturdays in the 1970s/80s, this football scene traditionally concluded the commercial break at 17:58 before HR returned to the network programming with the “Tagesschau” news and the sports program “Sportschau”.

ARD menu

ARD menu

ARD clock

ARD's main news programme

The “Tagesschau/Sportschau” board was a static picture (from the Frankfurt network centre?) which was shown until all regional opt-outs were back to the network programming on Saturdays. Then the network continued with evening lineup, clock, and Tagesschau, followed by Sportschau with reports about the Bundesliga match day.

NDR end cap for 'Plus Minus'

NDR end cap in 1982

Joint ARD/ZDF morning TV

The programs for the network are produced by the regional members, so the endcaps show the logo of the producing station; the ARD/ZDF Vormittagsprogramm logo (joint morning programming) was in use since 1981 up to the late 80s or early 90s.

ZDF National channel

Licence fee & advertising.

ZDF announcer

ZDF menu

ZDF announcer

ZDF’s news programme is Heute. Here are the headlines.

Watch Heute headlines

The main headlines on Heute as part of the ARD/ZDF Vormittagsprogramm (daytime schedule). A spartan set (not so unusual for television news in the early and mid 80s) with no filmed or videotaped inserts, but cromakeyed background captions and full-screen stills of newsmakers. In the quick fade at the end of the bulletin, it is possible to see the newsreader (Heinz Wrobel) get up, remove his microphone and leave before the programme ends.

The main evening news on ZDF. In this case, the main headlines are ‘teleprinted’ over the titles. The same background images are used again, but there are now videotaped inserts (from that year’s European Economic Community summit) added to the programme.

In those days it was the strict policy of ARD and ZDF not to use autocue during news. However, in the last years this purist approach to news presentation has been relaxed a bit for news magazines.

RTL Plus

National channel – Advertising funded.

An opening sequence for RTL Plus in Germany. The graphic styles of European commercial networks – especially very successful and rich networks like RTL – are very different to contemporary design in the UK at the time. One is left feeling that, had the ground rules not been changed just before the arrival of colour in the UK, these could be considered a natural extension of the designs in use in the mid to late 1960s on UK television.

Laid-back RTL announcer

Watch RTL closedown

A feature of RTLplus closedowns of the 1980s was a cast list for the day’s continuity and other on-screen staff, usually following a short skit. The skit here – sadly clipped on the original recording, featured the duty announcer saying good night whilst cleaning her teeth, then leaving the announcers booth and closing the door behind her. The cast list plays and the door swings open, to reveal the RTL extended ident being used as a closedown sequence.

Kabel Eins

Cable/satellite channel

Watch Kabel Eins promos

Reflecting how the television markets in each country in Europe differ vastly from each other, Kabel 1 shows that movie channels don’t necessarily come at a premium price everywhere, but even when largely unencrypted don’t turn into a megalith like Sky when the (free to air) competition is fierce.

The above pictures were caught – mainly through DX reception – in the 1980s, except for Onkel Otto, who was caught locally in 2002/3, and Heute which was captured in 1985.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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