Deutsche Welle

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Updated:Monday 13th October 2014

Deutsche Welle Definition

(Wikipedia) - Deutsche Welle This article is about the German international broadcaster. For the unrelated German radio company of the 1920s and 30s, see Deutsche Welle GmbH. For information about the musical genre, see Neue Deutsche Welle.
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Deutsche Welle Type Country Founded Headquarters Broadcast area Owner Launch date Affiliation Official website
International public broadcaster
3 May 1953
Berlin/Bonn, Germany
National and international
3 May 1953
World Radio Network
Original Deutsche Welle logo. The present-day logo is inspired by the intersecting ring design.Revised Deutsche Welle logo from 1992-1995 with the company name after the launch of Deutsche Welle TV in 1992.The Deutsche Welle logo 1995-2012 was intended to suggest a radio wave, although it drew comparisons to the Nike Swoosh.The Deutsche Welle building in Bonn

Deutsche Welle (German pronunciation: ) or DW is Germany''s international broadcaster. The service is aimed at the overseas market. It broadcasts news and information on shortwave, Internet and satellite radio in 30 languages (DW (Radio)). It has a satellite television service (DW (TV)), which is available in four languages, an online news site, as well as its own center for international media development, DW Akademie. Deutsche Welle, which in English means "German Wave", is similar to international broadcasters such as the BBC World Service, France 24, Voice of America, Radio Canada International, Radio Free Europe and Radio France Internationale.

Deutsche Welle has broadcast regularly since 1953. Until 2003 it was based in Cologne; then it relocated to a new building, the "Schürmann-Bau", in Bonn''s former government office area. The television broadcasts are produced in Berlin. Deutsche Welle''s website is produced in both Berlin and Bonn. On 6 February 2012 Deutsche Welle underwent a significant rebranding.

  • 1 History
    • 1.1 Broadcast languages
    • 1.2 German reunification
    • 1.3 World Wide Web presence
    • 1.4 Recent events
  • 2 Shortwave relay stations
    • 2.1 Domestic shortwave relay stations
    • 2.2 Transmitter sites
    • 2.3 External shortwave relay stations
    • 2.4 Relay stations leasing transmitter time to DW
  • 3 Comparison
  • 4 General Directors
  • 5 DW services
  • 6 DW Akademie
  • 7 See also
  • 8 Notes and references
  • 9 External links


Deutsche Welle was inaugurated on 3 May 1953 with an address by the West German President, Theodor Heuss, as its first shortwave broadcast. On 11 June 1953 the public broadcasters in the ARD signed an agreement to share responsibility for Deutsche Welle. At first it was controlled by Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (NWDR). In 1955, when this split into the separate Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) networks, WDR assumed responsibility for Deutsche Welle programming. In 1960 Deutsche Welle became an independent public body after a court ruled that broadcasting from Germany was part of the federal government''s foreign-affairs function. On 7 June 1962 it joined the ARD as a national broadcasting station.

Broadcast languages Language Began Ceased
German 1953
English 1954
Arabic 1959
Persian 1962
Czech 2000
Slovak 2000
Hungarian 2000
Serbo-Croatian 1992
Swahili 1963
Indonesian (Malay)
Modern Greek 1964
Italian 1998
Chinese 1965
Japanese 1969 2000
Pashto 1970
Serbian 1992
Bosnian 1997
Ukrainian 2000
Danish  ? 1998
Norwegian  ?
Dutch  ?
Belorussian 2005 before 2011
German reunification

With German reunification in 1990, Radio Berlin International (RBI) of East Germany ceased to exist. Some of the staff of RBI joined Deutsche Welle and it inherited some broadcasting apparatus, including the 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. 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, two 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.

World Wide Web presence

In late 1994 Deutsche Welle was the first public broadcaster in Germany with a World Wide Web presence, which at the time was (, although for its first two years the site listed little more than contact addresses. This later evolved into the current 30-language website. The URL later changed to and switched to in 2012.

For its 10th-anniversary celebration in 2004 DW provided a Klingon language version of its website under

The Internet news site offers daily exclusive coverage 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 corresponding to Deutsche Welle''s radio programmes. Persian became the site''s eighth focus language in 2007.

German and European news are DW''s central focus, but the site also offers background information regarding Germany and German language courses.

Recent eventsGerman stamp of 2003, conmemorating 50 years of the Deutsche Welle

In 2001 Deutsche Welle (in conjunction with ARD and ZDF) founded the German TV subscription TV 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 doesn''t charge terrestrial stations for use of its programming, and as a result its News Journal and other programmes are rebroadcast on numerous public broadcasting stations in several countries, including United States, Australia and New Zealand. In the Philippines it is shown nationwide on Net-25 and GEM TV.

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 Law", 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.

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.

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 produce 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 und Indonesian for South Asia, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

On November 1, 2011, DW discontinued shortwave broadcasts in German, Russian, Farsi and Indonesian and ended its English service outside of 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.

Shortwave relay stations Domestic shortwave relay stations Transmitter sites

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. Today Deutsche Welle no longer uses any of the transmitters based in Germany.

External shortwave relay stations
  • Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, 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, provides coverage for Africa. DW''s only remaining relay station as of 2012,
    • 4 × 250 kW shortwave transmitters
  • Sines, Portugal closed on 30t October 2011 (will be dismantled in 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. It was established in the early 1970s in exchange for a grant of almost 1 million GBP. The station closed in January 1996.

Formerly, DW shared a transmitting station in the Caribbean with the BBC and 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 in 2012.

Relay stations leasing transmitter time to DW

As of 2013, DW leased time on the following relay stations:

Comparison Estimated total direct programme hours per week of some external radio broadcasters for 1996 Broadcaster 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996
VOA, RFE/RL & Radio Martí 497 1,495 1,907 1,901 2,611 1,821
China Radio International 66 687 1,267 1,350 1,515 1,620
BBC World Service 643 589 723 719 796 1,036
Radio Moscow / Voice of Russia 533 1,015 1,908 2,094 1,876 726
Deutsche Welle 0 315 779 804 848 655
Radio Cairo (ERTU) 0 301 540 546 605 604
IRIB World Service / Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 12 24 155 175 400 575
All India Radio 116 157 271 389 456 500
NHK World Radio Japan 0 203 259 259 343 468
Radio France Internationale 198 326 200 125 379 459
Radio Netherlands Worldwide 127 178 335 289 323 392
Israel Radio International 0 91 158 210 253 365
Voice of Turkey 40 77 88 199 322 364
Radio Pyongyang / Voice of Korea 0 159 330 597 534 364
Radio Bulgaria 30 117 164 236 320 338
Radio Australia 181 257 350 333 330 307
Radio Tirana (RTSH) 26 63 487 560 451 303
Radio Romania International 30 159 185 198 199 298
Radio Exterior de España 68 202 251 239 403 270
RDP Internacional 46 133 295 214 203 226
Radio Havana Cuba 0 0 320 424 352 203
Rai Italia Radio 170 205 165 169 181 203
Radio Canada International 85 80 98 134 195 175
Radio Polonia 131 232 334 337 292 171
Radio RSA / Channel Africa 0 63 150 183 156 159
Sveriges Radio International 28 114 140 155 167 149
Magyar Rádió 76 120 105 127 102 144
Radio Prague 119 196 202 255 131 131
Voice of Nigeria 0 0 62 170 120 127
Radio Belgrade / International Radio of Serbia 80 70 76 72 96 68

Source: International Broadcast Audience Research, June 1996

The list includes about a quarter of the world''s external broadcasters whose output is both publicly funded and worldwide. Among those excluded are Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and various international commercial and religious stations.


  • Does not broadcast on shortwave as of 2014.
  • 1996 figures as at June; all other years as at December.
  • Before 1991, broadcasting for the former USSR.
  • Before 1996, broadcasting for the former Czechoslovakia.
  • General Directors
    • 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.
    • DW.DE: 30-language website
    DW Akademie

    DW Akademie is Deutsche Welle''s international center for media development, media consulting and journalism training. It offers trainings and consulting services to partners around the world. It works with broadcasting stations, media organizations, and universities especially in developing- and transition countries to reinforce free and independent media. The work is funded mainly by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.

    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.

    The Master''s Program "International Media Studies" 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 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 transition countries.

    The managing director of DW Akademie is Gerda Meuer, who has worked as a journalist for different media outlets and as a correspondent for Inter Press Service, a news agency focused on development issues.

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