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Public Communication as Facilitated by the Media from the 1950’s to the 1980’s

Public Communication as Facilitated by the Media from the 1950’s to the 1980’s

In this research project, topics on the history of institutions and programmes are taken up as well as the work of leading journalists and their communicative activity investigated.

In 2012, a working and communications pro-ject on “new ventures in the media” in 1960’s Hamburg began under the title, “Medialer Aufbruch. Das andere Fernsehen und das andere Kino in Hamburg in den 1960er Jahren” [New Ventures in the Media, The other Television and the other Cinema in Hamburg in the 1960’s]. The project is investigating how it was that new artistic and political forms of producing television and film were able to arise specifically in Hamburg.

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Project Description

In 2013, a report on progress so far and sources consulted, “Geschichte des Nord- und Westdeutschen Rundfunkverbands (NWRV) (1956-1961)” [The History of North and West German Broadcasting (NWRV) (1956-1961)], was made available. The NWRV, a joint organisation of the broadcasters, NDR and WDR, from 1956 to 1961 formed the institutional framework for television in northwestern Germany.

Its work came about against the background of the ascendancy of television as the leading medium; its dissolution came simultaneously with the “television judgement” of the German Constitutional Court in 1961 and the ensuing creation of the “Second German Television”, as well as with the introduction of third television channels at the broadcaster, ARD, shortly afterwards.

In 2013/14, a report will be produced on sources and literature consulted regarding the debates on regionalisation in the history of the NDR from its foundation to the solution of the crisis over the treaty between the states. In terms of communications history, the question arises as to how public broadcasting tries, as an actor in the media, to create regional spaces of communication and how it contributes to processes of regional identity-formation in the long term.

In addition, a report on sources and literature consulted is being prepared, which should facili-tate a study on the NDR as a cultural and economic factor (1956-1980).

The fact that public broadcasting in West Germany post-war was not left up to the market but made independent of the economic profit-motive by deriving its finance from a fee lends it a particular status from the viewpoint of business history. As public service broadcasting could draw on this fee, it is in a different position to publishers of books, magazines and newspapers, who have to make a profit, and so it commits itself to using its financial resources according to its statutes to produce and broadcast programmes. In contemporary terms, shareholder value and public value confront each other.

Results from the individual sub-projects are published as regular contributions to “NDR Ges-chichte (n)” [NDR History (ies). The goal of this online project by the NDR is “to present the various facets of the NDR’s history and make it available to users.” All “NDR History (ies)” can be downloaded from the NDR homepage.

Project Information


Duration: 2008-2015

Research programme:
Further Projects

Involved persons

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner

Third party

Cooperation Partner

Prof. Dr. Joan K. Bleicher, Institut für Medien und Kommunkation, Universität Hamburg

Contact person

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner
Senior Researcher Media History

Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner

Forschungsstelle Mediengeschichte
Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17-0

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