World Media 2006: Germany

Unemployment and low consumer confidence remain problems but Germany's captains of industry are hoping their country's hosting of the football World Cup will revive their fortunes.

Some of Germany's economic partners may be excused for feeling just a smidgin of schadenfreude as they ponder the country's current predicament.

There were those who both resented and envied Germany's (the western half's, at any rate) seemingly irrepressible confidence during the wonder decades of its economic miracle.

Now the juggernaut is parked up at the roadside, and a poll conducted last autumn revealed that 70 per cent of German consumers no longer believe they can do anything to affect their own destiny for good or ill. They think they are now victims of circumstance, subject to historical forces beyond their control.

The government was so alarmed at this defeatism that it ran a EUR30 million campaign designed to boost morale and stir the nation from its lethargy.

Schadenfreude aside, the international community is sincerely hoping it works. For all its troubles, the German economy is the largest in the European Union and if Germany sneezes, sooner or later we all catch a cold.

The indicators, however, look good. The troubles, of course, stem from reunification more than a decade ago. The process of putting the former East Germany back on its feet has been far costlier than anyone could have imagined. Unemployment in that half of the country is a horrendous problem, contributing significantly to the five million (11.6 per cent) total.

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel, especially now that Angela Merkel has replaced Gerhard Schroder as chancellor after last November's elections. True, she leads a relatively unstable coalition, so she won't be able to introduce the level of economic liberalisation she had planned, but she will be able to address the country's budget deficit.

Having weathered what they believe to be the worst of the storm, the captains of German industry - who have never shared the pessimism of their home consumers - say they are ready to respond. And who will bet against them, especially as the economy could get an extra boost this summer as Germany hosts the World Cup.

The biggest recent controversy in the media sector has been Axel Springer's threat to walk away from the German market and invest elsewhere. This follows the decision by monopolies regulators to block its agreed EUR2.5 billion merger with ProSiebenSat.1.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1= EUR0.8. *Estimated Total TV Newspapers Magazines Radio 1994 18,684 3,577 8,804 4,798 721 1995 19,750 4,029 9,110 5,070 717 1996 20,056 4,382 9,120 4,972 733 1997 20,791 4,725 9,423 5,065 747 1998 21,813 5,022 9,906 5,211 752 1999 22,995 5,364 10,118 5,496 859 2000 24,842 5,851 10,802 5,942 911 2001 22,946 5,553 9,654 5,512 842 2002 20,883 4,916 8,702 5,157 739 2003 19,855 4,736 8,091 4,922 720 2004 20,117 4,796 8,292 4,846 769 2005 20,235 4,715 8,438 4,734 847 2006* 20,596 4,776 8,561 4,784 876 2007* 20,895 4,824 8,666 4,836 891 2008* 21,219 4,911 8,756 4,879 900 Total Outdoor Online Cinema 1994 18,684 607 0 176 1995 19,750 637 0 188 1996 20,056 659 0 191 1997 20,791 637 0 194 1998 21,813 699 17 206 1999 22,995 847 96 214 2000 24,842 927 191 218 2001 22,946 944 230 212 2002 20,883 886 282 199 2003 19,855 882 306 200 2004 20,117 895 337 183 2005 20,235 912 404 184 2006* 20,596 942 468 189 2007* 20,895 956 533 190 2008* 21,219 982 601 190 Adspend notes 1) Excludes agency commission of 15%. 2) Excludes production costs. 3) Includes classified advertising. 4) After discounts. FACTFILE Highest circulating titles - Newspaper: Bild (daily, 3.7 million copies) - Business magazine: Guter Rat (monthly, 266,000 copies) - Consumer magazine: ADAC Motorwelt (monthly, 13.7 million copies) Top TV shows - Most watched TV programme: Euro 2004 final - Best new TV format: Streetsmartz - children's drama Major measurement tools - Circulation: IVW - Readership: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Media-Analyse, Media-Micro Census - TV viewing: GfK Main media owners - Newspapers: Axel Springer - Magazines: Gruner & Jahr - Television: ARD, ZDF, RTL, ProSiebenSat.1

THE LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour: Can Axel Springer be serious?

Reigning media guru and why: Ulf Boge, the president of the Bundeskartellamt, in conjunction with the KEK (commission to prevent concentration in media ownership), is making far-reaching decisions on the fate of German media.

Media mogul to be seen dining with: David Montgomery, the former Mirror Group chief executive. To the horrified amazement of Germany's media commentators, he won control of Berliner Verlag, the publisher of the regional daily Berliner Zeitung.

Car to drive: Reconditioned MG Rover from the BMW era.

Phone to carry: Siemens BenQ SL75.

Whatever you do, don't say: Go east, young man.

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