Review Article

East German media in transition after reunification

M. von Harpe
Literator | Vol 18, No 3 | a573 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v18i3.573 | © 1997 M. von Harpe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 1997 | Published: 30 April 1997

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M. von Harpe, Guest Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature with German, French and Translation studies, Potchefstroom University for CHE, South Africa

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Abstract

This article analyses the issue of how the “post-socialist" civil society of the former GDR can be reconstructed to reduce dependence of the media on the state and on future private ownership, thereby maximising freedom of communication. The media had a powerful impact on the transitional phase following reunification. Before 1989 West German television and radio stations were "windows to the West". After reunification East Germans preferred to have their own newspapers, to watch their own television programmes or to listen to their own radio programmes. There has been some criticism about the quality of the media, but the majority of the contemporary audience is satisfied now. To meet the expectations of their audience the journalists themselves have learned to devote special attention to East German problems. One problem of concern is media concentration. Privatisation entails the danger that monopolising trends in mass media, especially in newspaper publishing, will continue in the new East German Lánder. Deregulation and quality programming offer an opportunity for a major breakthrough and new forms of media organisation and management. The period of acclimatisation following the reunification has, however, been too short for the mass media. Nevertheless, owing to specific characteristics of reunification, the transition East Germans have had to make has been largely successful.

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