Erik Bettermann: Portrait of Germany in 30 languages


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

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.




4594370485_781466c0cd_bThe 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.