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Research on the History of Television Programs of the GDR

Das DFG-Forschungsprojekt "Programmgeschichte DDR-Fernsehen - komparativ"

In summer 2001, the collaborative research project "Comparative Program History of GDR Television" started, funded by the German Research Foundation.

Researchers and students of the universities of Leipzig, Halle-Wittenberg, Berlin (Humboldt University) and Potsdam-Babelsberg (Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen "Konrad Wolf") contribute to the project. In all, it comprises 10 sections. The aim of this large-scale project which is carried out in co-operation with the German Broadcasting Archive is a systematic and comparative analysis of the history of GDR television programs from ist beginnings in 1952 until the end of the DFF in 1991. The project is focused primarily on entertaining programs but also considers serious drama and reality-based programming and other parts of the programm (you can see overheadprojection). With this focus, the project is oriented towards the more popular offerings of GDR TV which had larger audiences by far than programs with overt political intentions like the Aktuelle Kamera (the daily news show) or Der schwarze Kanal (a weekly program presenting and commenting on clips from West German television in order to show how bad life in the capitalist West really was).

In the next phase of the project a comparative look at GDR TV will be emphasized. This includes the "dialogue of contrast" of the makers of TV in East and West, the exchange of programs and the adaptation of concepts, to give just a few examples. The main objective, however, remains the analysis of the internal structures of the GDR television apparatus and the development of programs. Especially with respect to entertaining programs the contribution of television in forging a "GDR identity" can be traced - and also how television played a role in alienating the people of the GDR from the state. Up to now, the research project has already yielded highly interesting results - from the reconstruction of an early film with the internationally known actor Armin Müller-Stahl ("Begegnung in Prag", 1958) to comprehensive chronologies in particular fields and the analysis of the coverage of football matches of teams from East and West. Results of the work are published in a special series (MAZ, (Materialien Analysen Zusammenhänge), by Leipzig University Press. Detailed information on the project can also be found on its internet site (www.ddr-fernsehen.de).

The project is funded until 2007. Its long-term conception is due to an increased interest in the history of GDR television and the need for its critical reappraisal, not least exemplified by the current wave of "Eastalgia" shows of various public-service and commercial broadcasters. Apart from that, the research design of the project will contribute considerably to a new understanding of the intricate relationship between East and West German television which up to now has been verry much overlooked. Giving GDR television its proper place in the general history of German television remains a key task of German television studies.
 

 

DFG-Projekt: Programmgeschichte des DDR-Fernsehens - komparativ
Sprecher: Prof. Dr. R. Viehoff (Halle), Prof. Dr. R. Steinmetz (Leipzig)
Die Seiten wurden nach Abschluss des Projektes im Juni 2008 letztmalig aktualisiert.

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