Prof. Dr. Thomas Gruber: Battling for first place – Munich as a media city

When asking people what comes to mind when they think of Bavaria, most will mention things like “mountains”, “beer” or the “FC Bayern” football club, some may also think of “BMW”. In contrast, the state is rarely referred to as a “media centre” or “film location”. While it is cer­­tainly true that the automotive industry is the most important sector in the Ba­­var­­ian economy, the media (together with mechanical engineering) come in second place. Almost one fourth of the top 100 media companies in Germany are head­­quartered in Bavaria and, compared with other industries, the sector is growing con­­tinuously, particularly in Munich. Whereas in 2003, the turnover of media companies in and around Munich totalled 17.3 billion euros, it had increased by nearly 22 per cent to some 21 billion euros within only three years. A survey conducted in 2007 by the CCI for Munich and Upper Ba­­var­­ia listed 5,088 businesses and 61,929 permanent employees in the Munich-based media industry.


The media industry is thus an important factor in the economic development of the region around Munich. At the same time, Munich is also of national significance to the media industry. For some years now, the big cities have been close contenders in the race for first place. While Bavarian sources list Munich as “Germany’s number one media city”, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Berlin-Brandenburg each claim the title for them­­selves. Whoever is right, one thing is for sure: Munich provides ex­­cel­­lent work­­ing conditions for media companies.

First of all, there is a well-balanced mix of industries. From the print sector, in­­clud­­ing printing and publishing, to tele­vision and radio to film and TV production, in­­ternet, multimedia and media tech­­nology: All segments are represented.
Other location factors appreciated by businesses include the areas available for industrial use and offices, the good transport connections as well as the links to research institutions and universities, such as the renowned University of Te­­levision and Film Munich (HFF).
This quality has its price, though. In Mu­­nich, real estate and rents are more ex­­pensive than anywhere else in Germany, and so is cost of living, which in turn leads to higher salary demands.
Did you know that, second only to New York, Munich is the most important city of book publishers worldwide? It houses 155 publishing companies, among them Langenscheidt, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag and C. H. Beck. In addition, a num­­ber of large magazine publishers are based in the region of Munich, for in­­stance Hubert Burda Media (widely known titles such as “Focus” or “Bunte” are made in Munich), Gong Verlag, and the Axel Sprin­­ger Mediahouse, which offers lifestyle and teen magazines like “Mädchen” and “Pop­­com”. Last but not least, Munich is also a centre of major newspaper publishers: The Süddeutscher Verlag and Münchner Merkur/tz media groups and DIE ABEND­­ZEITUNG are headquartered here.


Munich is further distinguished by nu­­mer­­ous broadcasting companies. A total of about 20 radio and 30 TV programmes are transmitted from Munich, among them Pro7, Kabel1, RTL2, Neun live, DSF, Tele 5 and Home Shopping Europe. In addition, there are Sky Deutschland, a pay-TV provider, and Germany’s largest commercial radio station, Antenne Bayern. And not to forget public broadcasting: the Programme Directorate of “Erstes Deutsches Fernsehen” (the umbrella organization of the regional German public broadcasting corporations) and Bavarian Broadcasting with its five radio programmes, the multimedia youth channel on3radio, Bavarian TV and the educational programme BR-alpha.

Successful films, such as the Oscar-win­­ning drama “The Lives of Others”, show that Bavaria is also a major centre of film production. Bavaria Film, based in Geiselgasteig in the south of Munich, is the leading European provider of cinematographic technology. And there are numerous other film production compa­­nies in Munich, for example Constantin Film AG. Almost 16,000 people working in the sector make the greater area of Munich the largest German centre of the movie industry in terms of workforce. Moreover, Munich accounts for some 40 per cent of turnover of all film-related manufacturing companies in Germany.


Munich is clearly playing in the top league of German media places, however, it must be careful not to be left behind by other cities. For example, with regard to film promotion: While funding for Berlin-Bran­­denburg has risen by about two thirds since 2003, the funds provided for Ba­­varia have declined by about one sixth. What is even worse, the high cost of living makes Munich an expensive place to live, especially for young people, which is why, despite a better infrastructure, it keeps loosing ground to the more economical city of Berlin, for instance in the area of creative advertising and film jobs. Thus, a significant increase of film fund­­ing and higher investments in the train­­ing of young film-makers are necessary. Sev­­eral good and important approaches in this direction include, for example, the establishment of the Bavarian Film Center in Geiselgasteig, which offers next-gen­­eration authors, directors and producers a protected environment to develop their creative potential.
Munich’s media businesses are quite op­­timistic about their future. The industry anticipates moderate but continuous growth. This was expressed in the afore­­mentioned 2007 survey by the CCI for Munich and Upper Bavaria. The compa­nies see special opportunities in digitiza­­tion and they are pushing ahead with the expansion and development of new busi­­ness areas. If politicians implement the right strategies, Munich will therefore continue to be one of the leading Ger­man media locations.


Gruber-02-KopieThe author, born in Eislingen/Fils in 1943, has been the director general of Bavarian Broadcasting (BR) since 2002. Previously he held various management positions at BR, among others as radio director, head of the Franconian regional studio and of the directorate division.