As of February 6, Deutsche Welle's German-language program will see its cultural content boosted. DW's head of culture, Rolf Rische, explains how.
DW: What's new about the German-language program offered by DW?
Rolf Rische: DW's new German-language TV programs will include much more cultural content than before. We interpret culture in a very broad sense: We don't want to talk only about cultural highlights in literature, film and music, but also about culture's social dimensions, for instance traditions and values.
Our new program isn't just the TV equivalent of the feature pages of a traditional newspaper; it's much more exciting television that keeps our audience up-to-date on culture, business, sports, science and so much more.
As always with DW, you can watch the German program anywhere in the world. For live stream access via the internet, simply click on the "Live TV" button in the upper left corner.
You can also watch most shows per video on demand on the DW website under the heading "TV." Viewers are sure to find their favorites, from "Europe in Concert" and "Kino" to "Kulturzeit" and "Shift."
Viewers can also use the DW App under "TV" live to follow the German TV program on their phones.
Of course, the German TV program will also continue to be broadcast in the usual manner, reaching Eastern Europe, Asia, Oceania, North and South America via satellite. Direct reception is only possible with a very large satellite dish - but DW has more than 250 broadcast partners offering the entire range of DW's German TV program.
"Multichoice" gives viewers in South Africa and nine other African countries access to the German-language program in its "DSTv Premium" channel. Viewers in Canada can turn to "Shaw Cablesystems" for DW's German broadcasts.
Who is your target audience?
Each and every viewer interested in Germany and Europe, or in German and European points of view. And of course everyone who enjoys culture - and who wouldn't?
If you have a look at the schedule, you'll see we're truly offering a lot of culture. New, genuine cultural content, such as the music magazine "PopXport" on Mondays of each week, as well as a new show called "Kulturzeit" that will air five days a week and that is acquired from broadcasters ZDF, ORF, SRF and ARD. Sundays, watch out for the successful and popular show "Kultur.21."
Then, we have a set of new shows that are all about literature: "druckfrisch," "lesenswert" and "Bücherjournal" give us the opportunity to present a weekly literature broadcast. I know no other program that has such a spectrum.
Another novelty is an almost one-hour-long current affairs show entitled "Der Tag," with a daily guest, and a special slot for cultural content. Those are just three of a series of additions that promise to make the program more exciting, as well as giving it a clear cultural profile.
Will most of that content focus on high-brow culture?
No, by no means. Perhaps the line between serious "high-brow" culture and entertainment is more pronounced in Germany than elsewhere, but that is not true for us, the creators of the television programs.
For us, there's only good culture, and perhaps less good culture. Most of all, we want to get our audience interested in good movies, good music, good books, no matter whether they belong to the high culture or the pop culture category.
Who would dismiss the unrivaled electronic music band Kraftwerk as unimportant entertainment, but automatically categorize the one millionth performance of the opera "Tosca" on a second rate stage as high culture? People who live in ivory towers and would rather stay there, isolated, that's who. We, on the other hand, are always on the lookout for quality, beyond what I regard as totally superfluous categories.
Take our award-winning film "Teodor Currentzis, the classical rebel," which tells the story of a conductor and his orchestra working on Mozart's "Don Giovanni." In a way, that is high culture - but most of all, it's a highly entertaining movie. It's a quality film, and the protagonists, Teodor Currentzis and the MusicAeterna orchestra, are really good, too.
Forget the distinctions between high-brow and popular culture to focus on what's good - such as Kraftwerk
That said, we plan to continue to show music documentaries, but also German comedy shows like "Ladies Night" and "Nuhr." Of course, we will also continue to broadcast the entertaining shows that have had a loyal audience for many years, including the daily "Euromaxx - Leben und Kultur in Europa," the travel show "Check-in" and the music show "PopXport."
Why are you focusing on culture at this point?
Mainly because the viewers are very interested in culture, as DW's market and media researchers have found out.
In addition, it's a perfect fit with DW's chartered mission. According to the DW Act, the broadcaster is intended "to convey the image of Germany as a cultural state in the European tradition and as a free and democratic constitutional state. They should provide a forum in Europe and on other continents for German (and other) points of view on important topics, primarily in the areas of politics, culture, and economics."
Promoting understanding and the exchange of ideas among different cultures and peoples is Deutsche Welle's mission.
And that is what we hope to achieve with the new German-language program. There simply is no better approach to the values and identity of a society than via culture. By nature, the dialogue of cultures nurtures understanding. In these uneasy times, one is tempted to rephrase a well-known, decades-old German advertising slogan for a tonic based on natural herbs: "Culture - never more valuable than today."