Feature

Germany: Why is German TV so parochial?

Talent shows and popular music shows once &ldquo;considered it de rigueur to demonstrate a certain cosmopolitanism&rdquo; by including acts from other countries, said Nils Minkmar in <em>Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.</em>&

Nils MinkmarFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German television has become hopelessly insular, said Nils Minkmar. When I was growing up, we often watched shows imported from other European countries. The British comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for example, and the Czech children’s show Pan Tau were just as popular here as they were in their homelands. Talent shows and popular music shows “considered it de rigueur to demonstrate a certain cosmopolitanism” by including acts from other countries. Now, though, even as borders have come down and we travel more freely than ever, “there’s no trace of Europe on TV—except on the news.”

Just about every program that wasn’t produced here is a U.S. series dubbed into German. Talk shows invite only Germans as guests. The result is that young Germans have no idea who the talented performers are in Sweden, say, or France, or Italy. And Germany isn’t the only offender—the same chauvinism can be found in other European countries. “Every country acts as though TV broadcasters had to shield their viewers” from the practical consequences of European unification.

We may live in a global village. But if we don’t demand international TV offerings, our children will grow up in a “narrower world” than we did.

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