Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

: "Second German Television"), ZDF, is a public-service German television broadcaster based in Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

 (Rheinland-Pfalz). It is run as an independent non-profit institution, which was founded by the German federal states (Bundesländer). The ZDF is financed by television licence
Television licence
A television licence is an official licence required in many countries for the reception of television broadcasts...

 fees called GEZ
Gez is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in south-western France.-References:*...

 and advertising revenues. The ZDF is well known for its famous TV formats heute
heute is a news show on the German television channel ZDF. The main show is broadcast at 7 PM, or 19:00, consisting of news of the day, weather forecasts and sport...

 (newscast; established in 1963) and Wetten Dass...? (entertainment show; established in 1981).

In 1961 the ZDF was founded by the federal treaty on the establishment of the public institution "Second German Television", after an uproar about the plan of the West-German federal government under Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...

 to set up a TV programme controlled by the federal government. The FRG constitution assigns regulation of culture and media to the federal states (Bundesländer). With a speech by the first director general (Intendant), Dr. Karl Holzamer, the station began broadcasting from Eschborn
Eschborn is a town near Frankfurt am Main in the Main-Taunus district, Hesse, Germany. As of 2009, it had a population of 20,789, but boasts fulltime employment of over 30,000 people...

 near Frankfurt am Main on 1 April 1963. The channel broadcast its first programme in colour in 1967. In 1974 the ZDF moved its present base of operations to Mainz-Lerchenberg, after briefly being located in Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

. The current director general Markus Schächter was elected by the ZDF Television Council in 2002.


The licences fees for Radio, TV and the New Media amount to € 17,98 per month, from 1 January 2009 on. For radio reception alone, the monthly fee is € 5.76. These fees are not collected directly by the ZDF but by the GEZ
The GEZ, full title Gebühreneinzugszentrale der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland , is a joint organization of Germany's public broadcasting institutions ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio that is located in Cologne...

 which is a common organisation of ARD
ARD (broadcaster)
ARD is a joint organization of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters...

, its members, ZDF and Deutschlandfunk
Deutschlandfunk is a German public broadcasting radio station, broadcasting national news and current affairs.-History:Broadcasting in the Federal Republic of Germany is reserved under the Basic Law to the states. This means that all public broadcasting is regionalised...

. Every resident in Germany is obliged to pay these licence fees, but only in the case, if he/she has a radio, TV or another New Media.


As ZDF is a channel, not a network, the channel is broadcast without any regional variation or affiliates throughout Germany, using a number of signal repeaters. ZDF transmitters have been switched from analogue to digital signal. This was a project which began in 2002 and was completed in 2008. Digitally, the ZDF group contains the main ZDF channel itself, 3sat, ZDFinfokanal (ZDF´s topical information and news channel), KIKA (children´s channel; daytime only), ZDFkultur (culture oriented), ZDFneo (youth oriented) and arte.
ZDF does not run any transmitters itself. Throughout the analogue days, all ZDF transmitters were run by the Deutsche Bundespost
Deutsche Bundespost
The Deutsche Bundespost was created in 1947 as a successor to the Reichspost . Between 1947 and 1950 the enterprise was called Deutsche Post...

 which was later privatised as Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom AG is a telecommunications company headquartered in Bonn, Germany. It is the largest telecommunications company in Europe....

's subsidiary T-Systems
T-Systems is a worldwide operating ICT provider founded in October 2000. It belongs to Deutsche Telekom AG and its central office is located in Bonn, Germany. Within Deutsche Telekom AG it is responsible for multinational corporations and public-sector institutions. It operates in more than 20...

 Media Broadcast
. (This is in contrast to the other public German broadcaster, ARD
ARD (broadcaster)
ARD is a joint organization of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters...

, which owns its main transmitters.) ZDF was not previously allowed to use ARD's transmitters. Changes to the law in the 1990s and since the digital switchover, ZDF uses both ARD and Telekom transmitters.


ZDF has also been relayed by cable
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

 since the days of the first cable pilot projects.


The first Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

-wide satellite
Satellite television
Satellite television is television programming delivered by the means of communications satellite and received by an outdoor antenna, usually a parabolic mirror generally referred to as a satellite dish, and as far as household usage is concerned, a satellite receiver either in the form of an...

 broadcast via Astra 1C
Astra 1C
Astra 1C was the third communications satellite launched by the Société Européenne des Satellites , now SES Astra. It is the oldest Astra satellite still in operation, although it currently carries few services...

 began in August 1993 during the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin
Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin
The IFA or Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin is one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in Germany. Between 1924 and 1939 it was an annual event, but as from 1950 it was organized on a two yearly basis until 2005. Since then it has become an annual event again, held in September...

 (IFA - "International Broadcasting Exhibition") in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. In the same decade, these new technologies were used to enable digital
Digital television
Digital television is the transmission of audio and video by digital signals, in contrast to the analog signals used by analog TV...

 broadcasting of ZDF. Today, ZDF is available free-to-air throughout Europe via Astra 1H (19.2 degrees East) and Hotbird 6 (13 degrees East).

Other ZDF channels

ZDF also operates the channels KI.KA
KI.KA is a public non-commercial free television channel based in Erfurt, Germany. It is a joint venture of national public television channels ARD, and ARD's constituent broadcasting institutions – BR, HR, MDR, NDR, Radio Bremen, RBB, Saarländischer Rundfunk, SWR, WDR and ZDF, and is targeted at...

, Arte
Arte is a Franco-German TV network. It is a European culture channel and aims to promote quality programming especially in areas of culture and the arts...

, Arte HD, 3sat
3sat is the name of a public, advertising-free, television network in Central Europe. The programming is in German and is broadcast primarily within Germany, Austria and Switzerland .3sat was established for cultural...

and Phoenix
Phoenix (German TV station)
Phoenix is a publicly-funded television station in Germany which is produced jointly by public broadcasting organizations ARD and ZDF. Its programming consists of documentaries, news broadcasts, special events coverage, and discussion programmes...

in cooperation with other networks. Included in its digital offering, called ZDFvision are the channels ZDFneo
ZDFneo is a German digital terrestrial television channel, programmed for an audience aged 18 to 45 to counter the primarily older-skewing main programmes of public broadcasters ZDF and ARD. It replaced ZDF's documentary channel, "ZDFdokukanal", on November 1, 2009.-Name:Although the channel's logo...

(formerly ZDFdokukanal), ZDFinfo, ZDFkultur (formerly ZDFtheaterkanal) and ZDF HD. Today ZDF is one of Europe's largest television networks.

Programme sales and acquisitions as well as international coproductions and a growing number of important activities in the field of the New Media are managed by a commercial subsidiary called ZDF Enterprises GmbH.


ZDF's animated
Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. The effect is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and can be created and demonstrated in several ways...

 station identity mascot
The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – colloquially includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name...

s, the Mainzelmännchen (a play on the words "Mainz" and "Heinzelmännchen
The Heinzelmännchen are a race of creatures appearing in a tale connected with the city of Cologne in Germany.The little house gnomes are said to have done all the work of the citizens of Cologne during the night, so that the inhabitants of Cologne could be very lazy during the day...

"), created by Wolf Gerlach in 1963, quickly became popular and are still shown between commercials.
In 1976 graphic designer Otl Aicher made a corporate design for ZDF. A new design for ZDF was done by Lee Hunt in February 2000.


Administratively ZDF is headed by a director general (Intendant), who is elected by the ZDF Television Council, the composition of which is in turn determined by the "societally relevant groups" named in the ZDF contract. Since the founding of the network in 1963, the following have held the office of Intendant:
  • 1963 - 1977: Karl Holzamer
    Karl Holzamer
    Johannes Karl Holzamer was a German philosopher, pedagogue and former director general of the German television station ZDF.- Life :...

  • 1977 - 1982: Karl-Günter von Hase
  • 1982 - 2002: Dieter Stolte
  • since 2002: Markus Schächter

Supervising board

The supervising board controls the work of the intendant Markus Schächter. Especially they have a look at the budgeting. The supervising board consists of 14 members:
  • 5 representatives of the federal states
  • 1 representative of the federal republic of Germany
  • the other 8 members are not allowed to work for the government or other public entity.

Television board

The Television board controls the ZDF and authorizes the budgeting. They also elect the intendant.
The Television board consists of 77 members:
  • 16 representatives of each federal state
  • 3 representative of the federal republic of Germany
  • 12 representatives of the parties
  • 2 representatives of the Protestant Churches
  • 2 representatives of the Catholic Church
  • 1 representative of the Central Council of Jews in Germany
  • the others are chosen through the above named.


ZDF became a fully active member of the European Broadcasting Union
European Broadcasting Union
The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

 in 1963. It has also a numerous individual cooperation agreements with broadcasters around the world.

ZDF is a supporter of the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV
Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV
Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV is both an industry standard and promotional initiative for hybrid digital TV to harmonise the broadcast, IPTV, and broadband delivery of entertainment to the end consumer through connected TVs and set-top boxes...

 (HbbTV) innitiative (a consortium of broadcasting and Internet industry companies including SES Astra
SES Astra
Astra is the name for the geostationary communication satellites, both individually and as a group, which are owned and operated by SES S.A., a global satellite operator based in Betzdorf, in eastern Luxembourg. The name is sometimes also used to describe the channels broadcasting from these...

, OpenTV
OpenTV is an interactive television company founded in 1994. Its main business involves the sale of set-top-box operating systems and software. On March 28, 2010 OpenTV became a fully owned subsidiary of the NAGRA Kudelski Group and officially delisted from the NASDAQ, where it was previously...

 and Institut für Rundfunktechnik
Institut für Rundfunktechnik
The Institut für Rundfunktechnik GmbH is the research centre of the German broadcasters , Austria's broadcaster and the Swiss public broadcaster . It is located in Munich and is responsible for the research and standardisation of broadcasting technology...

) that is promoting and establishing an open European standard for hybrid set-top boxes for the reception of broadcast TV and broadband multimedia applications with a single user interface.


  • Aktenzeichen XY... ungelöst
    Aktenzeichen XY... ungelöst
    Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst is a German television programme broadcast since October 1967 on ZDF that aims to combat and solve crimes. Until 2003 it was produced in co-operation with the Austrian public service broadcaster ORF and Schweizer Fernsehen, a division of the Swiss public broadcaster...

  • The Bold And The Beautiful
    The Bold and the Beautiful
    The Bold and the Beautiful is an American television soap opera created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell for CBS Daytime. It premiered on March 23, 1987....

     (Reich & Schön)
  • Dance Academy
    Dance Academy
    Dance Academy is an Australian teen-oriented television drama produced by Werner Film Productions in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and ZDF. Series one premiered on 31 May 2010, and series two is scheduled for 2012.-Plot:...

  • Derrick
    Derrick (TV series)
    Derrick is a German TV series produced by Telenova Film und Fernsehproduktion in association with ZDF, ORF and SRG between 1974 and 1998 about Detective Chief Inspector Stephan Derrick and his loyal assistant Inspector Harry Klein , who solve murder cases in Munich and surroundings Derrick is a...

  • Die größten Musical Hits (The Greatest Musical Hits)
  • Disco
    Disco (TV series)
    Disco was a pop music program that aired in Germany on the ZDF network from 1971 to 1982. It generally aired on the first Saturday of each month at 7:30PM, each show running 45 minutes. 133 shows were produced. The show was hosted by German actor and comedian Ilja Richter...

  • Dog City
    Dog City
    Dog City is a television series that was produced by Nelvana Limited and Jim Henson Productions and aired on FOX from September 26, 1992 to January 28, 1995, and in Canada on Global in 1993, then on Teletoon until 2000. The show contained both animation by Nelvana, and puppetry by Jim Henson...

  • Ein Fall für Zwei
    Ein Fall für Zwei
    Ein Fall für zwei is a German television series, which premiered on September 11, 1981 on the broadcasting corporation ZDF. The series, which is situated in Frankfurt am Main, shows two main characters, a defense attorney and a private investigator, who solve crimes.The character of the private...

  • Fraggle Rock
    Fraggle Rock
    Fraggle Rock is a children's live action puppet television program series created by Jim Henson. The central characters were a set of "Muppet" creatures called Fraggles. The show ran from January 10, 1983, to March 30, 1987, on CBC Television in Canada, ITV in the UK, HBO in the United States,...

     (Die Fraggles)
  • In Plain Sight
    In Plain Sight
    In Plain Sight is an American dramatic television series on USA Network. The series revolves around Mary Shannon , a Deputy United States Marshal attached to the Albuquerque, New Mexico office of the Federal Witness Security Program , more commonly known as the Federal Witness Protection Program...

  • Jack Holborn
    Jack Holborn
    Jack Holborn was a 1982 ZDF Adventure TV mini-series. The story is based on the book by Leon Garfield.-Plot:Jack Holborn is a 13-year-old boy living in an orphanage in late 18th-century Bristol. Jack was found on the steps of the Holborn Catholic church in London when he was a toddler. He was...

     Christmas (1982 mini-series)
  • Lafer! Lichter! Lecker! (2006–2010)
  • Markus Lanz (2008–2010)
  • Mino
    Mino (TV series)
    Mino was the eighth ZDF-Weihnachtsserie , and aired in 1986. The series was broadcast in Germany on ZDF, and consisted of 6 episodes. Broadcasting in Germany began on December 25, 1986. The series was also broadcast in Italy, and consisted of 4 episodes. Broadcasting in Italy began on December 28,...

     (1986 Christmas mini-series)
  • Heute (Newscast)
  • Der Kommissar (cancelled)
  • Kultnacht
  • The Old Fox
    The Old Fox
    The Old Fox is a German television series created in 1976, but first on the air in 1977, now running for over three decades....

     (Der Alte)
  • The Young And The Restless
    The Young and the Restless
    The Young and the Restless is an American television soap opera created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell for CBS. The show is set in a fictional Wisconsin town called Genoa City, which is unlike and unrelated to the real life village of the same name, Genoa City, Wisconsin...

     (Schatten der Leidenschaft)
  • Veronica Mars
    Veronica Mars
    Veronica Mars is an American television series created by Rob Thomas. The series premiered on September 22, 2004, during television network UPN's final two years, and ended on May 22, 2007, after a season on UPN's successor, The CW Television Network. Veronica Mars was produced by Warner Bros...

  • Wetten, dass..?
    Wetten, dass..?
    Wetten, dass..? is a long-running German-language entertainment television show. It is the most successful Saturday television show in Europe...

  • Rockpop
  • Rock Pop Music Hall (cancelled)
  • ZDF-Magazin
    ZDF-Magazin was a West German television news magazine, which ran on ZDF from 1969 to 1988. It was presented by Gerhard Löwenthal. It focused on communist-ruled Eastern Europe and was particularly known for reporting on human rights abuses there...

  • Die Deutschen
    Die Deutschen
    "Die Deutschen" is a German television documentary produced for ZDF that first aired from October to November 2008. Each episode recounts a selected epoch of German History, beginning with the reign of Otto the Great and ending with the collapse of the German Empire at the end of the First World...

Audience share (March 2008): 13.4%, from 14–49 years 7.1%.

External links

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