In the age of globalisation and digitalisation, nothing is more global than the exchange of news and other information. Billions of people can follow political, economical and cultural events simultaneously in real time. In our multimedia world, countries as well as companies face the same challenge of making their messages heard. Countries compete for economic markets, investments, tourists, cultural and value systems, models of society – and, of course, political power and influence. A growing number of nations are eager to introduce themselves outside of their own cultural circles and are, thus, boosting their international communication activities – increasingly by means of electronic media. The goal: influencing the battle for world public opinion – clearly communicating what their assets are. In this regard, it is extremely important for Germany to show a differentiated and most authentic picture of itself. Creating a positive image of Germany is part of the “soft” conditions for successful German foreign and economic policy.
The rest of the world is also driving its international media activities forward, especially through TV offerings. Russia, for instance, now offers the Arabic-language channel Russia Today as well as a 24-hour programme in English and Spanish. China has invested several billion dollars in expanding its international TV presence and has launched CNC World, a second English-language TV channel. Brazil is now also represented on the global scene.
The political and economic heavyweight of Latin America has been operating an international channel since the spring of 2010. At first, TV Brasil Internacional is concentrating on Africa – a target area that the Chinese and French also have their eyes on.
In the international media markets, Germany positions itself as a reliable political partner, attractive business location, and distinctive nation of culture.
Many contribute to painting the portrait of our country throughout the world:
Goethe Institutes, chambers of foreign trade as well as other establishments of foreign economic and cultural policy, billions of German tourists abroad, foreign visitors returning to their home countries after a positive stay in Germany, representatives of foreign media in Germany, and the German media themselves. Considering its international renown, language competence and worldwide technical infrastructure, German international broadcasting plays a central role in this regard.
Through its reporting, recognised as independent and pluralistic in all three media, Deutsche Welle (DW) conveys the “Germany brand”.
For their own opinion making, elites around the globe utilise domestic as well as foreign media. With its coverage in English and other key world languages – such as Portuguese, Russian, Hindi, and Chinese – Deutsche Welle offers companies, politicians and populations the only chance to receive first-hand information about Germany as well as the German perspective on relevant international matters in their own languages. The business location of Germany also draws benefits from that. Moreover, the promotion of the German economy is a core task of corporate policy. Whether a DAX 30 corporation or small family enterprise or whether a top banker or manager in the creative branch, they all find their places in the coverage of markets and their players. DW offers the world a look into the shop windows of the German economy: the bulk of world-leading SMEs are not American or Japanese, but come from Rellingen, Wüstenselbitz or Weiler-Simmerberg. The TV business magazine “Made in Germany” tells the stories of those companies, their business ideas, battles for the markets, regional roots, original management styles, and employment relationships. Such dedication is not only appreciated by viewers: DW series and segments have already been awarded the renowned Ernst Schneider Prize from the Chamber of Commerce several times.
That said, the business location is only a portion of the comprehensive Germany portrait being conveyed. For example, “Germany Today – Window on Germany” on DW-TV shows Germany as it is: what moves people and what they do. With reports, commentaries and series, the magazine paints a lively picture of everyday life in Germany. Always close to the people, it conveys insights and impressions from all around the country.
The travel guide “Discover Germany” introduces various regions such as Berlin-Brandenburg, metropolises like Munich or Magdeburg as well as landscapes, while suggesting special things to do. However, what is so interesting about travelling is not only the sights that a country has to offer but also the personal impressions of your own experiences and the people who you meet. In each episode, the programme accompanies a tourist on his or her trip through Germany, and locals reveal their very own travel tips, the likes of which cannot be found in guidebooks. In addition, persons with an interest in Germany will find substantial dossiers, for example, with pieces on the different federal states, including Berlin and Brandenburg, at www.dw-world.de.
Those present the various branches of industry that have settled there as well as the unique natural features and infrastructure existing on the 29,477 square kilometres that constitute one of the most expansive states in the German Federal Republic.
Users of those contents have a much more differentiated and positive picture of Germany. The broadcaster is, thus, yielding high image returns for Germany. For, the better the image, the greater the disposition to invest in Germany, import German products, consume German culture, and learn the German language. In the worldwide survey “BBC World Service Country Rating Poll”, which establishes the current popularity ratings of 16 influential countries every year, Germany was ranked first again in 2011. According to 62 per cent of nearly 29,000 respondents worldwide, Germany carries a high prestige and pleasant aura. A strong exterior media presence is required to continue to reach such remarkable sympathy values in the future.
The author was born in Lindenthal (Leipzig district) in 1944 and studied philosophy, education, and social education. Professional chapters: 1989–1991 deputy secretary of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD); 1995–2001: commissioner for federal affairs, Europe and development assistance of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. Since 2001, he has been director of Deutsche Welle.