Junger Mann im Radiostudio


Even in times of digitisation and media convergence, radio belongs to the most-used media in Germany. Listeners place high trust in radio, it offers a diverse range of programmes, and it convinces advertising clients with its wide reach.

The range of programmes offered by German private radio stations boasts great diversity and is characterised by country-specific offerings. At the start of 2017, about 300 private radio shows were on the air in the country.

In the past, radio was largely operated locally and regionally. Local radio was given a considerable boost in the last years through funding from die Medienanstalten.

The websites of the individual state media authorities provide information on the radio stations which are currently on the air in a respective state.

National radio holds a special position in the private German radio market. Unlike state and local radio, the majority of its programmes is not broadcast via VHF. Instead, providers use satellite, cable, and DAB+ to reach their listeners.

Further information on programme development and the economic situation of private radio is available in the current yearbook.

Radio reception in Germany

Grafik mit den Daten zur meistgenutzten Radioempfangsart aus dem Forschungsbericht zum Digibericht Audio der Medienanstalten

Diagram from die Medienanstalten’s 2018 digitisation report on the most-used types of radio reception (Source: die medienanstalten/Kantar TNS)

Compared to television, digitisation played more of a minor role in radio for a long time. This is currently changing, even if a long way still lies ahead to reach full digitisation of radio reception.  

Die Medienanstalten have recommended digitisation of terrestrial radio broadcasting again and again. Digital radio offers numerous advantages compared to analogue transmission technology. It means improved reception quality and opens up the possibility of a broader range of programmes.

The assignment of a second national digital radio multiplex marked an important milestone. The Committee Chairperson Conference (Gremienvorsitzendenkonferenz, GVK) made a selection decision on this allocation in 2017.

Digital radio is taking increasingly large steps in its development. According to the results of the study for the 2017 digitisation report conducted by Kantar TNS, the number of households with a device for receiving digital radio is continually rising, and internet radio is also seeing considerable gains. In contrast, radio reception via cable and satellite is slightly declining. The number of VHF radio listeners is remarkably stable. This continues to represent the most-used radio reception option for about three quarters of the population.

However, the trend of listening to the radio via digital reception and devices is undeniable, and especially the population under the age of 40 is increasingly listening to the radio via the internet and/or DAB+. Listeners are apparently unmoved by the debate on the right digital strategy. They are increasingly using both digital reception options and searching for the suitable reception type depending on location and preference.

Usage of DAB+

Market penetration with DAB+-capable radio devices has consistently risen in the last years. The results of die Medienanstalten’s digitisation report verify this.

Despite this growth, it remains difficult to market the reach achieved by terrestrial digital radio to private providers.

In 2016, die Medienanstalten and their partners commissioned mmc, a subsidiary of agma, to conduct a pilot study on DAB+ use. This study was the first to identify representative coverages of the range of DAB+ programmes. At the same time, the study delivers usage data on the reception type of DAB+ as a whole.

The DAB+ coverage study was continued in a revised version in 2017. Simultaneously, in cooperation with agma, a fusion of the DAB+ coverage and ma Audio is in progress. Starting in 2018, the DAB+ coverage study will be conducted as an ma study under the umbrella of agma. In the autumn of 2018, the ma Audio’s convergent coverage designation will also include DAB+ programmes for the first time.