DW launched its first international television channel in 1992 - just two-and-a-half years after German reunification.
For the first time, viewers around the world could tune-in any day of the week via satellite for German news, perspectives and ideas. DW initially broadcast six hours of television programming in German and English, alternating hourly between the two languages. Germany's international broadcaster had evolved from RIAS TV in Berlin during the course of German reunification. Just a few months later, the program was extended to 14 and then 16 hours. Since 1995, the station has been broadcasting around the clock. Spanish-language programming was introduced in November 1992 for viewers in Latin America.
Three hours of Arabic programming was incorporated in August 2002. Since then, the program has been extended twice. Since February 2012, DW has been broadcasting ten hours of Arabic programming daily for viewers from Oman to Morocco. From 2002 to 2006, DW also broadcast in Dari and Pashto for viewers in Afghanistan. Programming and structure has been adapted and updated a number of times – a process that has always been guided by an efficient overall concept of the way Germany's media image is presented to the outside world.
The most radical change took place in January 1999, when DW repositioned its global TV broadcasting to focus on news and information, with an additional spotlight on arts and culture. DW satellite programming has always included some content from the German broadcasters ARD and ZDF. Around 200 million households receive DW television via its network of partner stations around the world. In Asia alone, DW programming is fed into 1,000 cable networks. Deutsche Welle is also a standard feature in top-ranking hotels on every continent. And it is available online at www.dw.de as a live stream and as video-on-demand.
Deutsche Welle's experience with global television dates back to 1963. That was when DW, then based in Cologne, sent a foreign-language adaptation of a German film beyond Germany's borders for the first time. The company TransTel (today known as DW Transtel) was founded to adapt and distribute German TV productions. As one of the shareholders, DW took charge of the selection and adaptation of the programs, as well as the acquisition of foreign rights. DW began producing television programming on its own in 1983. In 1998, TransTel was closed down and its tasks were fully integrated into DW but the brand DW Transtel remained.