6. Broadcasting judgment - 6. Rundfunk-Urteil

The 6th broadcasting judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court of February 5, 1991 ( reference: BVerfGE 83,238 WDR ) marks the sixth in German jurisprudence in a series of judgments of the Federal Constitutional Court on freedom of broadcasting . In this judgment, numerous earlier statements of the court were further specified. The central concept of this judgment is the guarantee of existence and development for public broadcasting .


The WDR Act of 1985 and the NRW State Broadcasting Act of 1988 were enacted to regulate private broadcasting in North Rhine-Westphalia . These laws ensured a comparatively strong competitive position for the public broadcaster WDR and at the same time imposed similar diversity and programming requirements on private competitors as on public broadcasting.

In the area of ​​local broadcasting, the local press should be secured and the creation of double monopolies prevented.

The constitutionality of the laws was checked in an abstract norm review procedure.

Summary of the judgment

The BVerfG considered the laws to be essentially constitutional, but specified numerous expressions of freedom of broadcasting , which the court had already outlined in the earlier broadcasting judgments . From the freedom of broadcasting, there follows a guarantee of existence and development for public broadcasting. Mixed financing of the public broadcasters, for example through the production and exploitation of radio productions, is permitted. The basic service mandate from the constitution is not tied to a specific transmission path such as terrestrial transmission. The basic supply is rather dynamic and only to the function of the broadcasting, as it results from article 5 of the basic lawresults, bound. This means that the public program offering must also be open to new topics, forms and content and that new services using new technology are permitted.

For the reasons

P. 315: "Freedom of service is guaranteed [freedom of broadcasting] ... in the interest of free individual and public opinion-forming. The legislature is therefore obliged to design the broadcasting regulations in a way that ensures that this goal is achieved. In terms of program law, it follows that both the variety of subjects and the variety of opinions must be adequately expressed in the overall program. This requirement for the overall program applies regardless of whether the legislature opts for a public broadcasting system or a private broadcasting system. "
S. 316: “In a dual system in which public and private providers compete with each other, it appears constitutionally justified not to make the same demands on the breadth of the program offer and the safeguarding of equal diversity in private broadcasting as in public broadcasting Broadcasting, as long as and to the extent that it is effectively ensured that the broadcasting contract is fulfilled by the latter without any loss. "
P. 317: Private broadcasting must not “be made subject to requirements ... which would make its event more difficult, if not impossible.”


See also

Media law , broadcasting law , broadcasting freedom , broadcasting , broadcasting judgment , overview of media law decisions