Deutsche Welle

Deutsche Welle (German: [ˈdɔɪ̯.t͡ʃə ˈvɛ.lə] (listen); "German wave" in German) or DW is a German public state-owned international broadcaster funded by the German federal tax budget.[3][1][2] The service is available in 30 languages. DW's satellite television service consists of channels in English, German, Hindi, Spanish, and Arabic. The work of DW is regulated by the Deutsche Welle Act,[4] meaning that content is intended to be independent of government influence. DW is a member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).[5]

Deutsche Welle
Deutsche Welle headquarters in Bonn
TypeInternational public broadcaster
Broadcast areaWorldwide
AffiliatesWorld Radio Network
HeadquartersBonn, Germany
Language(s)German, English
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
OwnerGovernment of Germany[1][2]
Key peoplePeter Limbourg (Director General)
Launched30 May 1953 (1953-05-30)

DW offers regularly updated articles on its news website and runs its own center for international media development, DW Akademie. The broadcaster's stated goals are to produce reliable news coverage, provide access to the German language, and promote understanding between peoples.[6] DW has developed a two-tier strategy to service their audience in the upcoming years: "a global approach aimed at disseminating information to a larger worldwide audience through expansion of international television services in English, Spanish, Arabic, and German and a regional approach focused on providing information tailored to the needs of particular regions, primarily through the Internet."[7]

DW has been broadcasting since 1953. It is headquartered in Bonn, where its radio programmes are produced. However, television broadcasts are produced almost entirely in Berlin. Both locations create content for DW's news website.

It is also a provider of live streaming world news which can be viewed via its website, YouTube, and various mobile devices and digital media and audio.

As of 2018, around 1,500 employees and 1,500 freelancers from 60 countries work for Deutsche Welle in its offices in Bonn and Berlin.[8] The Director-General of DW is Peter Limbourg.



DW's first shortwave broadcast took place on 3 May 1953 with an address by the then West German President, Theodor Heuss. On 11 June 1953, ARD public broadcasters signed an agreement to share responsibility for Deutsche Welle. At first, it was controlled by Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (NWDR). In 1955, NWDR split into Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), WDR assumed responsibility for Deutsche Welle programming. In 1960, Deutsche Welle became an independent public body after a court ruled that while broadcasting to Germany was a state matter, broadcasting from Germany was part of the federal government's foreign-affairs function.[9] On 7 June 1962, DW joined ARD as a national broadcasting station.[10] Deutsche Welle was originally headquartered in the West German city of Cologne. After reunification, when much of the government relocated to Berlin, the station's headquarters moved to Bonn.

German reunification

With German reunification in 1990, Radio Berlin International (RBI), East Germany's international broadcaster ceased to exist. Some of the RBI staff joined Deutsche Welle and DW inherited some broadcasting facilities, including transmitting facilities at Nauen, as well as RBI's frequencies.

DW (TV) began as RIAS-TV, a television station launched by the West Berlin broadcaster RIAS (Radio in the American Sector / Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor) in August 1988; they also acquired the German Educational Television Network in the United States. The fall of the Berlin Wall the following year and German reunification in 1990 meant that RIAS-TV was to be closed down. On 1 April 1992, Deutsche Welle inherited the RIAS-TV broadcast facilities, using them to start a German- and English-language television channel broadcast via satellite, DW (TV), adding a short Spanish broadcast segment the following year. In 1995, it began 24-hour operation (12 hours German, 10 hours English, 2 hours Spanish). At that time, DW (TV) introduced a new news studio and a new logo.

Deutsche Welle took over some of the former independent radio broadcasting service Deutschlandfunk's foreign-language programming in 1993, when Deutschlandfunk was absorbed into the new Deutschlandradio.

In addition to radio and television programming, DW sponsored some published material. For example, the South-Asia Department published German Heritage: A Series Written for the South Asia Programme in 1967 and in 1984 published African Writers on the Air. Both publications were transcripts of DW programming.

Internet presence

In September 1994, Deutsche Welle was the first public broadcaster in Germany with an internet presence, initially, hosted by the GMD Information Technology Research Center. For its first two years, the site listed little more than contact addresses, although DW's News Journal was broadcast in RealAudio from Real's server beginning in 1995, and Süddeutsche Zeitung's initial web presence, which included news articles from the newspaper, shared the site. In 1996, it evolved into a news website using the URL; in 2001, the URL changed to, and was changed again in 2012, to Deutsche Welle purchased the domain, which previously belonged to DiamondWare, in 2013; DW had attempted to claim ownership of the address in 2000, without success. DW eventually moved to the domain on 22 June 2015. According to DW, their website delivers information by topic with an intuitive navigation organized to meet users' expectations. The layout offers more flexibility to feature pictures, videos and in-depth reporting on the day's events in a multimedia and multilingual fashion. They also integrated their Media Center into the website making it easier for users to access videos, audios and picture galleries from DW's multimedia archive of reports, programs and coverage of special issues.[11]

DW's news site is in seven core languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese for Brazil, and Russian), as well as a mixture of news and information in 23 other languages in which Deutsche Welle broadcasts. Persian became the site's eighth focus language in 2007.

German and European news is DW's central focus, but the site also offers background information about Germany and German language courses.[12] Deutsch, Warum Nicht? (literally: German, Why Not?) is a personal course for learning the German language, created by Deutsche Welle and the Goethe-Institut.[13]

Recent events

In 2001, Deutsche Welle (in conjunction with ARD and ZDF) founded the German TV subscription channel for North American viewers. The project was shut down after four years owing to low subscriber numbers. It has since been replaced by the DW-TV channel (also a subscription service).

Unlike most other international broadcasters, DW-TV does not charge terrestrial stations for use of its programming, and as a result, Journal and other programmes are rebroadcast on numerous public broadcasting stations in several countries, including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. In the Philippines, selected Anglophone programmes are shown nationwide on Net 25.

Deutsche Welle is still suffering from financial and staffing cuts. Its budget was reduced by about €75 million over five years, and of the 2,200 employees it had in 1994, only 1,200 remain. Further cuts are still expected.

In 2003, the German government passed a new "Deutsche Welle Act", which defined DW as a tri-media organization, making the Deutsche Welle website an equal partner with DW-TV and DW Radio. The website is available in 30 languages, but focuses on German, English, Spanish, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, and Arabic. Persian became the eighth focus language in 2007.

In March 2009, DW-TV expanded its television services in Asia with two new channels, namely DW-TV Asia and DW-TV Asia+. DW-TV Asia (DW-TV Asien in German) contains 16 hours of German programming and 8 hours in English, whilst DW-TV Asia+ contains 18 hours of English programmes plus 6 hours of German programmes.[14]

In August 2009, DW-TV's carriage in the United Kingdom on Sky channel 794 ceased, although the channel continues to be available via other European satellites receivable in the UK.[15]

In 2011, DW announced a major reduction of service including the closure of most of its FM services in the Balkans (except for Romani), but that it would expand its network of FM partners in Africa. The radio production for Hausa, Kiswahili, French, and Portuguese for Africa were optimized for FM broadcasts and DW also produces a regional radio magazine daily in English, to be rebroadcast by partners in Africa.

Audio content in Arabic is distributed online, via mobile, or rebroadcast by partners.

DW announced it would focus on FM partnerships for Bengali, Urdu, Dari/Pashtu, and Indonesian for South Asia, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

On 1 November 2011, DW discontinued shortwave broadcasts in German, Russian, Persian, and Indonesian and ended its English service outside Africa. Chinese programming was reduced from 120 minutes to 60 minutes a week. As of November 2011, DW only broadcast radio programming via shortwave in: Amharic, Chinese, Dari, English and French for Africa, Hausa, Kiswahili, Pashtu, Portuguese for Africa and Urdu.[16]

The budget of the Deutsche Welle for 2016 was 301.8 million euros.[17]

On 25 February 2018, DW-TV published "The Climate Cover Up – Big Oil's Campaign of Deception" (2018)[18] after documents confirmed big oil companies have known[19] the burning of fossil fuels impacts climate since 1957.[20]

Rebranding television news

On 22 June 2015, DW TV launched a 24-hour English-language news channel with a new design and a new studio as part of a rebrand to DW News. Previously, DW's news programmes were called Journal and broadcast in English in 3-, 15- and 30-minute blocks. The new channel offers 30-minute updates every hour and 60-minute programmes twice a day on weekdays. DW News broadcasts from Berlin but frequently has live social media segments hosted from a specially-designed studio in Bonn. The German, Spanish and Arabic channels also received a new design.

At the same time, DW's news website moved from a .de URL to .com and added a social media stream to its front page. The refreshed DW services were launched under the tagline 'Made for Minds'.

Plans for the future

Deutsche Welle has developed a two-tier approach that they are using for future growth of their company which consists of a global approach and a regional approach. Within their global approach, DW has now made plans to boost its competitiveness market throughout the world with news and television coverage. The plan implements covering mostly all regions of the world with two television channels in each region. With some exclusions, the entire world will be covered. Hours covered ranges throughout regions and the coverage will be in 4 different languages: German, English, Spanish, and Arabic.[7]

The regional approach looks at marketing over the internet to offer news coverage in languages other than the 4 being offered. With updates on DW's website news will be better tailored to each region. Over time, their plan is to diversify their online coverage with more regional content being covered.[7]


Broadcast languages

English *1954[21]Radio & TV
French *Radio
Polish *
Czech *2000[24]
Slovak *2000[24]
Hungarian *2000[24]
Serbo-Croatian *1992[25]
Indonesian (Malay)
Romanian *
Modern Greek1964[23]Radio
Italian *1998[26]
Danish *19651998[26]
Norwegian *
Swedish *
Dutch *1967
Belarusian2005[29]before 2011

 * partly by Deutschlandfunk (until 1993)

Controversy or censorship

On 10 April 2019, DW announced that Venezuela's state telecoms regulator Conatel had halted its Spanish-language channel. By 15 April, the broadcasting service was restored.[30]

Also in 2019, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused DW of calling on Russians to take part in recent anti-government protests, and threatened it would take action against the outlet under domestic law if it made such calls again.[31] Shortly after, Russia's parliament accused DW of breaking election legislation and asked the foreign ministry to consider revoking the German broadcaster's right to work in the country.[32] By November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared he did not support banning foreign media outlets.[32]

There has also been controversy in the way the German broadcasters of DW cover domestic stories. In German society, journalists have been known to shape perspectives of the national identity using terms or the themes they choose to cover. According to William Silcock, "research in the bicultural (German and English) newsroom at Deutsche Welle provided the opportunity to see how national myths were forged and maintained by the dominant culture and how such myths were accepted or resisted by the other." Silcock explains his research by saying, "Transporting an understanding of the past  this German national myth  through global television was an unarticulated, but very present, goal of the Deutsche Welle's news organization."[33]

Shortwave relay stations

Transmitter sites in Germany

The Jülich radio transmitter site began operation in 1956 with eleven 100 kW Telefunken transmitters.

The Wertachtal site was authorized in 1972 and began service with four 500 kW transmitters. By 1989 there were 15 transmitters, four of which relayed the Voice of America.

The Nauen transmitter site was inherited from Radio Berlin International. RBI's Russian-made three 500 kW and one 100 kW transmitters were replaced by four Telefunken 500 kW transmitters and four rotatable antennas. Deutsche Welle no longer uses any of its transmitters in Germany.

Shortwave relay stations outside Germany

  • Trincomalee, Sri Lanka (1984 to 2013) sold to Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation
    • 3 × 250 kW shortwave transmitters
    • 1 × 400 kW mediumwave transmitter
    • 20 antennas (to be verified)
  • Kigali, Rwanda: A relay station in Kigali, Rwanda, was inaugurated on 30 August 1963, and provided coverage for Africa.[34] This relay station closed 28 March 2015.
    • 4 × 250 kW shortwave transmitters
  • Sines, Portugal closed on 30 October 2011 and was due to be dismantled after a few months.
    • 3 × 250 kW shortwave transmitters

DW used a relay station in Malta had three SW and one 600 kW-MW transmitter and gave partial coverage of the Americas, Southern Asia and the Far East.[35] It was inaugurated on 29 July 1974 in exchange for a grant of almost 1 million GBP. The station closed in January 1996.

Formerly, DW shared a transmitting station on Antigua in the Caribbean with the BBC. It was inaugurated on 1 November 1976 and closed on 31 March 2005. It had a relay-exchange with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that allowed DW to use two 250 kW transmitters in Sackville, New Brunswick until that facility closed down in 2012.[36]

In July 2011 Deutsche Welle began implementing a major reform. The main changes have been a radical reduction of shortwave radio broadcasting—from a daily total of 260 to 55 hours—and an expansion of television broadcasting.[7]

Relay stations leasing transmitter time to DW

In 2013, DW leased time on the following relay stations:[37]


  • 12 October 1960 – 29 February 1968: Hans Otto Wesemann
  • 1 March 1968 – 29 February 1980: Walter Steigner
  • 1 March 1980 – 8 December 1980: Conrad Ahlers
  • 19 December 1980 – 30 June 1981: Heinz Fellhauer (interim)
  • 1 July 1981 – 30 June 1987: Klaus Schütz
  • 1 July 1987 – 30 June 1989: Heinz Fellhauer
  • 1 July 1989 – 31 March 2001: Dieter Weirich
  • 1 April 2001 – 30 September 2001: Reinhard Hartstein (interim as deputy intendant)
  • 1 October 2001 – 30 September 2013: Erik Bettermann
  • 1 October 2013 – present: Peter Limbourg

DW services

  • DW (Radio): shortwave, cable TV, satellite and digital radio (DRM) broadcasting in 29 languages, with a 24-hour service in German and English
  • DW (TV): satellite television broadcasting mainly in German, English, Arabic and Spanish.
  • 30-language news website
  • Deutsche Welle maintains live video streams on YouTube in German, English, Spanish and Arabic, as well as several channels with recorded videos in various categories and languages.

DW Akademie

DW Akademie is Deutsche Welle's international center for media development, media consulting and journalism training. It offers training and consulting services to partners around the world. It works with broadcasters, media organizations, and universities especially in developing and transitioning countries to promote free and independent media. The work is funded mainly by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.[38] Additional sponsors are the German Foreign Office and the European Union.

DW Akademie's journalism traineeship is an 18-month program for young journalists that provides editorial training in the three areas in which Deutsche Welle produces content: radio, television and online. It is aimed at aspiring journalists from Germany as well as from regions to which Deutsche Welle broadcasts.[39]

The "International Media Studies" Master's Program, offered in cooperation with the University of Bonn and the University Bonn-Rhein-Sieg of Applied Sciences, is based at DW Akademie. The four-semester program combines the disciplines of media development, media regulation, and communications. The seminars are held in English and German and the degree is aimed at media representatives from developing and transitioning countries.

Carsten von Nahmen became head of DW Akademie in September 2018. He had been DW's senior correspondent in Washington since February 2017 and prior to this, deputy editor-in-chief and head of DW's main news department since 2014. Christian Gramsch was director of DW Akademie from November 2013 until May 2018, and prior to this DW's regional director for multimedia. He succeeded DW Akademie director Gerda Meuer, who had previously been deputy editor-in-chief of Deutsche Welle's radio program, and had earlier worked for various media outlets and as a correspondent for Inter News service. Ute Schaeffer has been DW Akademie's deputy head since 2014 and was previously Deutsche Welle's editor-in-chief.[40]

Learn German section

Deutsche Welle's website has a section dedicated to providing material for those who are interested in learning the German language.[41] Among the material available in their site, they offer free access to an animated series called Harry lost in Time (Harry gefangen in Zeit), for beginners.[42] Through Flash animation, the series tell the story of a fictional character named Harry Walkott, a man who is struck by lightning in the Black Forest during his vacation in Germany and, because of this, becomes stuck in time, with the same day repeating over and over. With an English narration, the series introduces German expressions, words and grammar explanations, and also provides exercises to the user.

See also



  1. Johnson, Ian (21 August 2014). "German Broadcaster Fires Chinese Blogger". The New York Times. Deutsche Welle is owned by the government, much like the British Broadcasting Corporation or the Voice of America.
  2. Shalal, Andrea (14 April 2019). "German state-owned TV says Venezuela blocked its Spanish channel". Reuters.
  3. "What kind of company is Deutsche Welle?". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. "Deutsche Welle Act". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  5. European Broadcasting, Union (EBU) (28 February 2019). "Members". Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  6. "Profile DW". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  7. Masayuki, Saito (March 2014). "International Broadcasters Confronted with Great Changes: Their Strategies amid Streamlining Part II: Deutsche Welle (Germany)1" (PDF).
  8. "Profil DW" (in German). Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  9. Sjurts, I. (2010). Gabler Kompakt-Lexikon Medien: 1.000 Begriffe nachschlagen, verstehen und anwenden (in German). Gabler Verlag. p. 43. ISBN 978-3-8349-9180-5. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  10. "Ausarbeitung: Vergleich der Sender CNN, Deutsche Welle, BBC und CCTV" [Elaboration: Comparison of the channels CNN, Deutsche Welle, BBC and CCTV] (PDF). Bundestag (in German). 24 February 2014.
  11. "DW introduces new website and TV program | DW | 5 February 2012". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  12. "Learn German". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  13. Deutsch, Warum Nicht?. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  14. Two New Dedicated Channels Provide Gateway to Europe: Two DW-TV channel launched in Asia Deutsche Welle.
  15. "No more DW-TV on Sky/Astra". Boards. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  16. "Changes in radio broadcasts starting this summer". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  17. "Etataufstockung: Deutsche Welle erhält mehr als zehn Millionen zusätzlich".
  18. (, Deutsche Welle. "The climate cover-up – big oil's deception | All media content | DW | 25 February 2018". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 25 February 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  19. Supran, Geoffrey; Oreskes, Naomi (2017). "Assessing ExxonMobil's climate change communications (1977–2014)". Environmental Research Letters. 12 (8): 084019. Bibcode:2017ERL....12h4019S. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa815f. ISSN 1748-9326.
  20. DW Documentary (25 February 2018), The climate cover up – big oil's campaign of deception | DW Documentary, retrieved 26 February 2018
  21. "1950–1954". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  22. "1955–1959". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  23. "1960–1964". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  24. "2000–2005". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  25. "1990–1994". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  26. "1995–1999". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  27. "1965–1969". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  28. "1970–1974". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  29. "Broadcasting Democracy to Belarus". Belarus Digest. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  30. Vivian Sequera and Andrea Shalal (15 April 2019), German state-owned TV says it returns to Venezuela screens Reuters.
  31. Ostroukh, Andrey; Balmforth, Tom (8 August 2019). Lawson, Hugh (ed.). "Russia accuses Deutsche Welle of urging Russians to take part in protests". Moscow. Reuters.
  32. Kiselyova, Maria; Balmforth, Tom (6 November 2019). Heavens, Andrew (ed.). "Russia's foreign ministry opposes call to ban Deutsche Welle: Ifax". Moscow. Reuters.
  33. Silcock, B. William (June 2002). "Global News, National Stories: Producers as Mythmakers at Germany's Deutsche Welle Television". Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. 79 (2): 339–352. doi:10.1177/107769900207900206. ISSN 1077-6990. S2CID 146272016.
  34. "Transmitting from the hilltops of Kigali". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  35. Wood 2000: 51.
  36. Wood 2000: 51–52.
  37. Deutsche Welle Short Wave.
  38. "Who we are". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  39. "Traineeship Program". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  40. "About us". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  41. "Learn German". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  42. "Harry – gefangen in Zeit". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 June 2019.


  • McPhail, Thomas L. Global Communication: Theories, Stakeholders, and Trends. 2006, Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-4051-3427-5.
  • Wallis, Roger, and Stanley J. Baran. The Known World of Broadcast News: International News and the Electronic Media. 1990, Routledge. ISBN 0-415-03604-6.
  • Wood, James. History of International Broadcasting. 2000, Institution of Engineering and Technology. ISBN 0-85296-920-1.
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