1954
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Inauguration of the new broadcasting centre

Inauguration of the new broadcasting centre
Source: WDR, Cologne, Germany

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Themen

Media

WDR founded

Rhenish black pudding and Hamburg fish rolls just don't go together! On 12 May 1954 the Landtag decides to quit the Hamburg-based broadcasting corporation, Nordwestdeutschen Rundfunk (NWDR), and create the state's own station: WDR in Cologne.

After 1945 the British want to establish a strong broadcasting station in their zone, not least as a bulwark against Soviet influence. They create NWDR operating from Hamburg.

The northerner's influence on programming is too strong for many in NRW. Clashes of personality within the corporation finally lead to a split: NWDR is divided into NDR and WDR in 1955. By 1956 the separation is complete. WDR, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, broadcasts independently.

Since those early days, when Cologne didn't even have its own TV transmitters, WDR has grown into Germany's biggest public service broadcaster. Yet it is no longer the leader: bulletcommercial TV channels, with no public service mission to fulfil, can spice-up and dumb-down - targeting a bulletmass audience and topping the ratings.

Dirk Bitzer

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Party political musical chairs

The CDU wins the Landtag election on 27 June 1954, but in the following legislative period everyone gets a turn at government - thanks to the FDP!  bullet go on