Skip to main content

State-operated television stations in Germany

This is where you will find a guide to the programming offered by the public television stations and all kinds of background information as well.

'Dinner for one' on British TV
© dpa

3sat online

Ambassadors of culture: Four broadcasting companies from three different countries provide 3sat with a program of high-quality films, documentaries and reports. The public broadcasting service began in 1984 as a joint production of the ZDF (Second German Television), the Austrian broadcasting company and the Swiss broadcasting company. The ARD, another public broadcasting company in Germany, joined in 1993.

With its national communal program “Das Erste“ (Channel One) it reaches nearly all 38 million television households in Germany: the Association of Public Broadcasting Stations of the Federal Republic of Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der offentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, ARD). Here you‘ll find news from all the sections of the ARD.


This is “television without borders“. The culture channel ARTE, originally German-French, is now viewed throughout Europe. On the home page of this joint public television project you can access the ARTE program, including summaries, and that‘s not all.

Bavarian Radio and Television Network

In addition to a colorful mixture of entertainment and information ranging from culture, sports, and recreation, to the environment and science, you’ll find current news and police reports from the Free State of Bavaria at the website of the Bavarian Radio and Television Network (BR).

Channel One – the Programming of the ARD

Offering everything from information and culture, entertainment, soaps, crime stories and services, Channel One is the broadcaster operated by the National Radio and Television Network in Germany (ARD – Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).

Deutsche Welle

Media calling card: On May 3, 1953, the “Deutsche Welle” (DW) went out over the airwaves for the very first time. Today, the international broadcaster provides information all over the world in up to 30 languages – whether Chinese or Bengali. Via television, radio and Internet, the Deutsche Welle communicates a picture of Germany and promotes exchange between foreign cultures.

hr online

The Hessian Broadcasting Company (hr - Hessische Rundfunk) sends its programs out over the airwaves between Kassel and Darmstadt. Classics from the state broadcasting company located in Frankfurt include “The Hesselbachs” and the “Augsburger Puppenkiste” marionettes. Culture buffs will enjoy the concerts of the hr big band and the company’s own symphony orchestra.


This is where children play the leading roles: the KI.KA program – the children’s channel operated by the German state-owned television stations, ARD and ZDF – broadcasts such programs as “Sesame Street” and “Schloss Einstein”, kids’ shows that are geared to what kids want. On the Internet, KI.KA goes on entertaining the little ones long after the sandman has said goodnight on TV.

mdr Central German Radio and Television Network

News from Central Germany: the Central German Radio and Television Network (mdr – Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk) broadcasts current regional reports from its studios in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. You will also find interesting programs that focus on politics, sports, business, and culture.

North German Radio and Television Network

Comprising Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein in its transmission area, the North German Radio and Television Network (NDR – Norddeutscher Rundfunk) can be found online at Here you can read about current events and traffic radio reports from the surrounding regions.


As iridescent as a phoenix? The somewhat different television channel operated on behalf of ARD and ZDF features events, documentaries and discussion shows; the “Tagesschau” and “heute journal” news shows are accompanied by a sign language interpreter.

Radio Bremen

Take a look at the review of the month – in Latin: you just never stop learning with Radio Bremen (RB). In the service section, you’ll find tips on unusual foods, entertaining trips and other recreational activities.

Berlin-Brandenburg Radio and Television Network

A fresh, new voice in the capital-city region: in May 2003, the former Sender Freies Berlin (SFB) and Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg (ORB) merged to form the Berlin-Brandenburg Radio and Television Network (RBB – Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg). Programs are broadcast around the clock from the network building in Berlin, from the studio in Potsdam-Babelsberg and from the four state studios.


At you’ll find out more about the westernmost broadcasting company in Germany, the Saarland Radio and Television Network (SR – Saarländischer Rundfunk), the technical equipment required for radio and television broadcasting and a history of the SR from 1929 up to the present.

What are people interested in in the southwestern part of Germany? The public radio and television program from Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate is broadcast by the Southwestern Radio and Television Network (SWR). The SWR has been the second-largest media company within the ARD broadcasting company since 1998. “Nachtcafé” (Night Café), a talk show, is considered as the TV station’s flagship.


Aimed to please a variety of different tastes: Whether it’s such TV classics for kids like “Die Sendung mit der Maus” (The Mouse Show) or “Rockpalast” (Rock Palace) for music fans – the programming of the West German Broadcasting Corporation (WDR) writes television history. The state broadcasting corporation located in North Rhine-Westphalia also operates five radio stations, the “Funkhaus Europa” Internet radio and provides more than one quarter of the ARD programming for “Das Erste” (Channel One).


Missed your favorite show again? It doesn’t matter: the website of Germany’s Channel Two (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, ZDF) provides information on the entire program. You can watch shows again as video streams or call up their content. Shows on specific topics are easy to find using the search engine.