information for global expats

Entertainment, Media and Television for Expats in Germany

Submitted: October 2013


Germany has a thriving nightlife, with bars and clubs that often don't close until dawn. The options are plentiful from elegant cocktail bars, old-world theatres to hip music venues. In the club scenes as well, Germany has numerous “in” locations, in particular in the major cities of Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt/Main, Stuttgart and Mannheim.




When you move to Germany you should have very little difficulty finding reading material in English. This is primarily due to the fact that most neighbourhood newsstands have a number of good-selling English titles, including the major dailies published in the United Kingdom, such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph as well as the tabloid, Daily Mail. It is also possible to get other publications such as The Economist, Newsweek and International Herald Tribune.

The German newsmagazine Der Speigel isa weekly political journal. It also has an English-language website which can be found at www.spiegel.de/international. Furthermore, in several large bookstore chains, such as Hugendubel, there are many publications in English.


Post World War II, the German public network was modelled along the lines of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). TV stations took the form of corporations (or bodies under public law) financed by license fees, the two main public stations are ARD and ZDF. ZDF is the largest broadcasting station in Europe.Free, private (ad-financed) TV stations include RTL, SAT.1 andProSieben. There is also the pay-TV channel Sky.


Cable stations carry about 40 channels, depending on where you are located. Most of the stations are in German but one can usually receive channels like BBC World, MTV and CNN. Some cable providers also offer English Language Packages which include additional English language channels.

Some cable providers are:

  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Kabel Deutschland

Satellite TV

The best way to receive a large number of high-quality, English-language programs is to have a relatively inexpensive satellite dish installed.

Some of the more popular satellite programming providers in Germany are ASTRA 19.2E and ASTRA 2.

  • ASTRA 19.2E: There is a pay-tv station called Sky Deutschland TV which carries a number of English language channels such as FOX, National Geographic, TNT and MTV among others.
  • ASTRA 2: There is a package known as Freesat which offers over 100 free English radio and TV channels. All that is required is a standard German digital or digital/HD receiver. See https://www.freesat.co.uk/to find out about all the channels they offer.


There are some 430 radio stations in Germany.  English-language radio stations are also available, primarily through satellite or from cable. Some of the providers offering satellite radio in English are CNN, Bloomberg and the BBC. These stations offer news, music, sport, entertainment and other programming.

If you would like to remain up-to-date with German current affairs, the international state broadcaster Deutsche Welle also provides German news for English speakers via DW-TV and DW-Radio. For their online service with news in 30 languages see:  www.dw.de

General Information

Almost identical to the UK, as an owner of a television set, radio, or video/TV software, you are required to register and pay a quarterly user fee (referred to as “GEZ”), and there are heavy penalties for failure to do so.

As of January 2013, one television and radio licence covers all of the devices in one property, and only one licence payer in each property must be registered. The Beitragsservice (Fee Service) has replaced GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale) as the collector of the licence fee:

  • Beitragsservice
    Tel: 018 599 950 100 / 018 599 950 888 /Fax: 018 599 950 105

Applications to register your devices can be found at German post offices and banks, or often you will automatically receive an application in the post after registering your address with the local authorities. Otherwise, applications can be made online at www.rundfunkbeitrag.de (in German). It is also possible to make payments by bank transfer after receiving the bill or by direct debit.



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