50 years Deutsche Welle: | Press Releases | DW | 30.04.2003
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50 years Deutsche Welle:

Programme of information and "intercultural dialogue"

* On May 3rd, 1953, Deutsche Welle went on the air for the first time
* Festivities on 27 June 2003 in Bonn with Federal President
Johannes Rau
* Opening of the new broadcasting house

Deutsche Welle (DW) is turning 50. Half a century after the first broadcast, Germany's international broadcasting service presents itself as an innovative media enterprise: DW offers multimedia, globally accessible information in more than 30 languages. It uses the latest digital technology for production and broadcasting and, more importantly, draws on the expertise of a multinational team of some 1,500 employees from more than 60 countries.

They create DW-TV and DW-RADIO programmes as well as the website DW-WORLD.DE. According to Director-General Erik Bettermann, "Intercultural dialogue is part of our work - all day and every day. And it is not just about spreading linguistic and cultural diversity abroad. Our cosmopolitan approach and specialist knowledge also contribute to public debate here in Germany."

On June 27th, 2003, Deutsche Welle will mark its 50th birthday with festivities at the Plenarsaal in Bonn. Federal President Johannes Rau will be the guest of honour and keynote speaker. DW will also be celebrating the official opening of its new broadcasting house, for DW's anniversary year of 2003 is also the year that the headquarters of the German international broadcaster will move from Cologne to Bonn. The building, designed by Professor Joachim Schürmann and situated in Bonn's former government quarter, is one of Europe's most modern broadcasting centres.

Three pillars ...
"Hier ist die Deutsche Welle Bonn" - this acoustic hallmark will soon go out around the world from the Federal City, Bonn. This is where the multilingual programmes of DW-RADIO are made: for example in languages like Amharic and Urdu, in Bengali and Ukrainian and, of course, in German and English, Russian and Chinese. This is where multimedia DW-WORLD.DE goes online. Here, the Deutsche Welle Radio Training Centre (RTC) successfully trains skilled radio staff from developing countries and Eastern Europe.
DW's television activities are concentrated in Berlin: DW-TV in German, English and Spanish, as well as regional slots in other languages. Furthermore, DW broadcasts GERMAN TV, the joint "best of" programme from the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF.

... one mission
Deutsche Welle was commissioned to "provide listeners and viewers abroad with a comprehensive picture of political, cultural and economic life in Germany and to present and describe German positions on important issues." This is how the 1997 Deutsche Welle Act defines our mission statement. The Federal Government intends to amend this act and reformulate the mission in close cooperation with DW.
Bettermann: "DW stands for independence and credibility, which will remain the priority since people all over the world value our programmes for these qualities. Nevertheless, DW's mission needs to be extended and made more precise. We do not only report about Germany, but about events in our target regions. This is the only way international radio can have an impact as a form of preventive foreign and security policy. It ensures a free flow of information in regions of war and crisis."

Anniversary year 2003 will be marked by rapid implementation of the reform process already under way. DW's current corporate profile defines clear focal points and aims. As Bettermann states, "We will continue to regionalize our programmes and intensify intercultural dialogue - in particular with the Islamic world. DW-TV's programme slots in the Afghan languages Dari and Pashto and in Arabic are examples of the success of this idea." Furthermore, DW is covering the process of European unification extensively and is making its mark with a focus on the areas of business and culture.

To reach its most important target groups more effectively, DW is increasingly using FM frequencies for large cities and is playing a leading role in launching digital shortwave radio.
A more relaxed approach in German foreign relations
50 years of Deutsche Welle - 50 years of information from the heart of Europe. On May 3rd, 1953, Deutsche Welle went on the air for the first time - on short-wave and in German. Federal President Theodor Heuss addressed "our cherished countrymen around the world" and expressed his wish for a more relaxed approach in German foreign relations.

Only a year later radio programmes began in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, supplemented by Arabic in 1959. In the 1960s, the programme was expanded to include more than 20 broadcasting languages - including French, Croatian and Persian, Russian, Greek and Turkish, Kiswahili and Hausa, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese. During these years, DW started up its initial television activities: like the radio programmes, taped television programmes are also dispatched to partner stations.

In 1965, the Deutsche Welle Radio Training Centre (RTC) was founded. It has also operated television-training courses in Berlin since 1996. In the meantime, this facility funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has trained more than 10,000 skilled radio staff from developing countries and Eastern Europe. Many alumni now hold top positions in their homelands - as ministers, director-generals and ambassadors.

Satellite TV and the Internet
The reorganization of public broadcasting following German unification was also a turning point for DW as the last broadcaster under federal law. DW took over the foreign language programmes of Deutschlandfunk (DLF) in Cologne and parts of Radio Berlin International (RBI), the disbanded East German international broadcaster. Somewhat ironically, DW was soon able to lease transmitters in Russia that were used during the Cold War to jam the reception of western international radio stations.

On April 1st, 1992, DW-TV went on the air in Berlin - German international television via satellite. Two years later Deutsche Welle became the first public broadcaster in Germany to go on the Internet with a presence that was expanded and given the new address DW-WORLD.DE in 2001.

Finally, GERMAN TV began broadcasting in March 2002, initially as pay-TV for North America for German-speaking viewers.

Dialogue in many languages
Erik Bettermann: "As an institution for international media and cultural work, DW has the deepest possible impact. Intercultural dialogue also includes promoting the German language. That is far more than conveying an authentic picture of German reality."

Two thirds of humankind lives under authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, which deny their citizens freedom of the press and freedom of speech. In these nations, and in particular in regions of crisis and conflict, DW is an acknowledged source of objective information - whether in the Balkans, today in Afghanistan or many other regions of the world.
DW addresses people all over the world who are interested in Germany and in Europe, particularly opinion leaders and the so-called "information elites". DW is also the "bridge home" for Germans living overseas.

Partners all over the world
DW transmits it diverse programmes via a global satellite network. DW-RADIO, in addition, broadcasts via shortwave - in future digital - radio, as well as via medium wave and FM to specific regions. Many thousands of partner stations around the world broadcast DW programmes, including TransTel productions. DW-TV and DW-RADIO are also available on the Internet as live-stream and on-demand programmes at DW-WORLD.DE.

Modern, flexible, ready for tomorrow
"At fifty, Deutsche Welle is ready for the challenges of the future," says Director-General Bettermann. "Modern and flexible, with respected quality programming for its entire media, Germany's international broadcaster holds an outstanding position among international competitors." This is the merit of the expertise and creative potential of its international staff as well as the corporation's constant structural revamping over the past decade.
30 April 2003

More information on the Internet:

Christoph Jumpelt

Christoph Jumpelt

Head of Corporate Communications and Spokesperson

T. +49.228.429-2041