ZDF: Wikis


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Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen
ZDF logo
Type Broadcast television network
Country Germany
Availability National; also distributed in:
Key people Markus Schächter, President
Launch date 1 April 1963
Official Website www.zdf.de
ZDF headquarters

Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (English: "Second German Television"), ZDF, is a public-service German television channel based in Mainz. It is run as an independent non-profit agency established by joint contract between the German federal states (Bundesländer). ZDF is funded by a television licence and advertising revenue.[1]

The station began broadcasting on 1 April 1963 from Eschborn. The channel broadcast its first programme in colour in 1967. In 1974 ZDF moved its base of operations to Mainz-Lerchenberg, after briefly being located in Wiesbaden.



Licensing fees required for Radio and TV sets are €17.03 per month, as of 1 April 2005. For radio reception alone, the monthly fee is €5.52 These fees are not collected directly by the ZDF but by the GEZ that is a common organisation of ARD, its members, ZDF and Deutschlandfunk.

Transmission and reception


As ZDF is a channel, not a network, the channel is broadcast without any regional variation or affiliates throughout the country, using a number of signal repeaters. Prior to the reunification of Germany, ZDF, like ARD, positioned many of its transmitters in locations which made it easier to watch in extensive areas of the GDR, where both channels were viewed by large parts of the population.

ZDF transmitters have been switched from analogue to digital signal, a project which began in 2002 and was completed in 2008. Digitally, the ZDF mux contains the main ZDF channel itself, 3sat, ZDFinfokanal (ZDF's topical information and news channel), KI.KA (children's channel; daytime only), ZDFneo (youth oriented).

ZDF does not run any transmitters itself. Throughout the analogue days, all ZDF transmitters were run by the Deutsche Bundespost which was later privatized as Deutsche Telekom's subsidiary T-Systems Media Broadcast. (This is in contrast to the other public German broadcaster, ARD, which owns its main transmitters.) ZDF was not previously allowed to use ARD's transmitters. Changes to the law in the 1990s mean that since the digital switchover, ZDF uses both ARD and Telekom transmitters.


ZDF has also been relayed by cable since the days of the first cable pilot projects.


The first Europe-wide satellite broadcast via Astra 1C began in August 1993 during the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA - "International Broadcasting Exhibition") in Berlin. In the same decade, these new technologies were used to enable digital 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, arte, 3sat and Phoenix in cooperation with other networks. Included in its digital offering, called ZDFvision are the channels ZDFneo (formerly ZDFdokukanal), ZDFinfokanal, ZDFtheaterkanal. Today ZDF is Europe's largest television network.


ZDF's animated station identity mascots, the Mainzelmännchen (a play on the words "Mainz" and "Heinzelmännchen"), 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.


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


ZDF became a fully active member of the European Broadcasting Union in 1963.

ZDF is a supporter of the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) innitiative (a consortium of broadcasting and Internet industry companies including SES Astra, OpenTV and Institut für Rundfunktechnik) 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.


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

External links


Coordinates: 49°57′52″N 8°12′29″E / 49.96444°N 8.20806°E / 49.96444; 8.20806

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