The Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia stands for the protection of human dignity, minors, media users and private media plurality in the German Federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. On one hand, we accomplish this by regulating and supervising existing media services to ensure that these legally protected interests are not violated. At the same time, we promote journalism in North Rhine-Westphalia and teach people to use media fairly and autonomously.
In Germany there is a dual broadcasting system encompassing both public service and private broadcasters. Private broadcasters are primarily financed through advertising, while the public service broadcasters ARD and ZDF receive funding through the public licence/household fee (which is 17,50 Euro per month). Oversight also varies for public service and private broadcasters. The media authorities only act as contacts for private radio and television broadcasters as public service channels are supervised by their internal broadcasting councils.
Moreover, according to the German constitution, broadcasting is regulated by the individual federal states, and the same applies accordingly to broadcasting oversight. Therefore, there are 14 state media authorities, corresponding to one for nearly every federal state. Berlin and Brandenburg share a joint media authority, as do Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.
What is our role?
We support citizens in exploiting the opportunities in connection with digital media and classifying the associated risks.
We provide our media orientation services to support North Rhine-Westphalia's citizens in tapping and utilising the opportunities of digital media. At the same time, we help identify and classify potential risks. Our service is for everyone, regardless of their age, education, income, and origin.
Everyone in North Rhine-Westphalia should be able to use media fairly and autonomously.
Our responsibilities include the oversight of private radio broadcasters, television broadcasters, and electronic media.
On one hand, this field of activity encompasses general media oversight – except for data protection – relating to the observance of the provisions set forth in the German Interstate Broadcasting Agreement, the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors from Harmful Media, and the state media laws and treaties, or the European AVMS Directive, respectively. On the other hand, we issue broadcasting licences to private radio and television broadcasters, as well as online services.
We represent the interests of the democratic society in a free and independent media landscape.
We observe the media policy and media trends in Europe, Germany, and North Rhine-Westphalia in order to facilitate the early detection of the consequences which current developments could have for the protection of human dignity, young people, users, and the plurality of media. We classify these for example by means of research projects and use the corresponding findings to derive required actions for the media authority. As part of this process, we give equal regard to the public and market players.
On the basis of the results of our work, we attempt to boost awareness for pending topics even beyond the realm of the media authorities.
We advocate for North Rhine-Westphalia as a strong, successful, and innovative media location.
Good journalism is as diverse as its audience and as multifaceted as the state and the region which it reports on. We want good journalism to be possible in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is why we founded our Journalism Lab.
Our work promotes a stable and independent media system in North Rhine-Westphalia, makes room for innovation, and encourages new methods and experiments. The Journalism Lab of the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia is an experimental space for digital journalism which advocates for plurality and innovation in media in North Rhine-Westphalia. It supports media professionals in creating professional journalism which is innovative, user-centric, and competitive.
How are we financed?
The state media authorities are registered public institutes funded by a small portion of the public licence/household fee. This means that our organization is independent from the state and financially independent.
What is the legal basis for our work?
State media authorities operate on the basis of the State Media Treaty, as well as the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors from Harmful Media, state media laws, and the AVMS Directive. All our legal foundations can be found here.
Who are “die medienanstalten”?
In addition, the 14 media authorities in Germany collaborate on central tasks and projects under the umbrella brand “die medienanstalten”. This ensures uniform regulation for all the private radio and television channels throughout Germany and that the media authorities speak with a single voice with regard to European media policy. Further details on the media authorities can be found on their joint website.