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.