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Religious presence in the media vis a vis a shrinking audience

As public corporations, the Churches and other religious groups are represented on the Boards of public owned stations and Media regulatory bodies in the Länder. Futhermore, the State recognises the right of Churches to public preaching and to diaconal service in the Loccum convention of 1955. As a result, the Christian Churches and the Jewish community have been allocated enough air time for their services and other religious programmes (ZDF-Staatsvertrag § 11. 3). In particular, for public broadcasters (ARD, ZDF, DeutschlandRadio, Deutsche Welle) discussion forums on religious issues and themes on "the Church and Society" form part of their basic programmes. The Churches have fixed slots for airing morning prayers, Church services and meditation programmes.
It is noteworthy that there is a decrease in viewership of these programmes (see table below), which thus gave rise to their reprogramming.
The presence of Churches on private stations is infrequent, despite the fact that there exist independent broadcasters who are funded from donations received from viewers (for example Evangeliumsrundfunk in Wetzlar).

The same can be said for the print media. Initially, the principal Churches in Germany produced a significant number of journalistic writings, as can be seen from the fact that the first German information service was founded by the Protestant Church (Evangelischer Pressedienst, epd). Today, a number of religious publications and magazines exist, like the protestant periodical Chrismon which is distributed along with the weekly Die Zeit and several dailies (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, etc.), or the ecumenical daily Rheinischer Merkur. However, a lot of these papers are recording declining readership, having failed to attract the younger public. In addition, the funding problems experienced by the Church and stiffer competition have called for refocused spending.

Source : JANOWSKI, Hans N., Kirche und Medien. Zur aktuellen Lage der christlichen Publizistik, Materialdienst des Konfessionskundlichen Instituts Bensheim, 5/2003, p. 87-91.

How many times do you watch or listen to religious programmes on the radio or TV? (valid %)

West 1982 (n = 2991)West 2002 (n = 1934)East 2002 (n = 886)
More than once a week 5,0 1,9 1,7
Once a week 11,8 4,5 3,3
One to three times a month 11,5 6,1 1,8
Several times a month 15,6 11,2 8,1
Hardly 27,7 27,4 22,1
Never 28,4 48,9 63,0
Total 100,0 100,0 100,0

Source: Zentralarchiv für Empirische Sozialforschung, Zentrum für Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen (ZUMA), German Social Survey (ALLBUS), ZA Study 1160. Köln, 1982 et 2002.

D 14 September 2012    AMatthias Koenig

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