Region: Germany

Culture beats repeats: put more artists on TV to fill extra airtime in #Corona-shutdown

Petitioner not public
Petition is directed to
Prof. Monika Grütters (Staatsministerin, Beauftragte für Kultur und Medien), Tom Buhrow (Vorsitzender der ARD), Dr. Thomas Bellut (Intendant ZDF)
159 Supporters
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  1. Launched 2020
  2. Collection finished
  3. Submitted
  4. Dialogue
  5. Failed

Corona has closed our stages indefinitely. Culture lies idle indefinitely. As a result, artists and cultural workers, their audience and we as a society will suffer lasting damage.

Television is a stage and is still working despite Corona. Public television has a mandate to promote national artists* and will face *"large gaps in its programme well into the coming year", as ARD programme director Volker Herres told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Sunday, 26.4. The cancellation of the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games alone frees up 220 hours of airtime. [1]

How are these failures to be compensated for in times of Corona-driven shooting stops? Instead of new productions and live transmissions, will our broadcasting fees buy pure repeats throughout the entire summer? When we can neither travel, nor got to concerts, stadiums or festivals?

Dear Prof. Grütters,

Mr. Buhrow,

and Dr. Bellut,

instead of a summer of repeats, let’s make it a summer of culture - a cultural “Sommermärchen” 2020!

We demand that at least 30% of the extra airtime available due to Corona-related cancellations should be used for current art and culture. On the main channels, not just the niche channels ARTE and 3SAT or digital media libraries like ZDFkultur and ARTE Concert. At the heart of the programme, not at off-peak times:

  • At least 1 hour broadcasting time per day on Das Erste or ZDF, on weekdays between 6-11pm, on weekends also during the day
  • At least 1 hour broadcasting time per day between 6-11pm on regional channels for the specific support of artists and ensembles from the region

The content of the airtime can be high-quality existing material (recordings of concerts and performances, self-produced videos) as well as live studio performances and integration of the latter into existing formats - in accordance with current contact regulations.

The opening of this media stage must be aimed particularly at those who are most affected by the current restrictions: freelance performing artists as they need a stage to live and cannot rely upon a publicly funded salary. Musicians of all genres, theatre actors and dancers on independent stages, stand-up comedians, poetry slammers, rappers, singer-songwriters and many more. It is therefore essential to not only display the ‘high culture’ of the big houses and the known names of the scene, but to especially support newcomers from the national pop- and subcultures.

Paths in the cultural sector have become increasingly difficult in recent years. Since the disappearance of outlets such as Viva and MTV the media space for culture shifts further and further into the internet. Despite the undeniable advantages and possibilities of streaming services such as Youtube, Spotify, Netflix and many others - which have become all the more obvious in recent weeks - the sovereignty over the development of new artists moves more and more into the hands of the private sector.

We need to take the cultural mandate of public broadcasting seriously again! This has already been the case before Corona hit the scene. Because of Corona, it is now high time!


The cultural mission of German public media is legally enshrined in the Federal Broadcasting Treaty (Rundfunkstaatsvertrag, RStV). § 11 Section 1 of this treaty states an explicit obligation to “particularly offer contributions on culture”. [1]

This includes both the reporting on cultural events and a mandate for cultural sponsorship, i.e. to create cultural events themselves. In doing so, the entire spectrum of cultural diversity must be reflected.[2]

According to the latest figures from the Cologne Institute for Empirical Media Research (IFEM) for 2016-2018, the share of “Culture & Religion” in the content profile of Das Erste was 2.4-2.8%; that of ZDF 2.7-2.8%. By way of comparison: Sports most recently comprised 8.4% (Erste)/6.9% (ZDF), everyday/social affairs 6.8%(Erste)/15.0%(ZDF), fiction 35.4% (Erste)/36.4% (ZDF), and of these alone, thrillers/crime shows 10.8% (Erste)/24.2% (ZDF).[3]

As announced by the Federal Government we will have to cope with restrictions in public life for some time to come. When stages will be allowed to reopen is therefore marked with a big question mark. Formats developed to date for "Culture in Times of Corona" - much of which is only available in the media library, not broadcast on TV - focus again on a very narrow selection of what our cultural landscape can offer.

Television broadcasters have the platforms, the professional technology and the reach to make the performing arts accessible to a wide audience at a high quality. And the public, which until recently filled theatres, concert halls, opera houses, galleries, cabaret stages, music bars and clubs, is now yearning for cultural stimulation within their homes. Just as all creative artists long to play for their audience.

Is there a better time for our very own cultural “Sommermärchen”?


[1] [1] Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, „ARD-Programmdirektor Herres: Wegen Corona-Krise "große Lücken" im TV-Programm“, 26. April 2020,

[2] die medienanstalten, „Staatsvertrag für Rundfunk und Telemedien (Rundfunkstaatsvertrag – RStV), version 22. Rundfunkänderungsstaatsvertrag, in effect since 1. May 2019.(

[3] Wissenschaftliche Dienste des deutschen Bundetages, „Der Kultur- und Bildungsauftrag der öffentlich-rechtlichen und privaten Rundfunkanstalten“, Ausarbeitung WD 10-051/06.

[4] Krüger, Udo Michael, „Profile deutscher Fernsehprogramme 2018 – Tendenzen der Angebotsentwicklung zur Gesamt- und Hauptsendezeit“. In: Media Perspektiven 4/2019, Editor: Institut für empirische Medienforschung (IFEM), Cologne. (

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