13 Feb 2023, 14:05
Milou Dirkx

German TV increases climate coverage, but “still a lot of room for improvement” - report

Coverage of climate change on German public television has increased over the past years but still lags behind other topics such as business news, leaving “a lot of room for improvement”, a report by the University of Hamburg has found. The emergence of the Fridays for Future student protest movement, increased attention around the annual UN climate summits (COPs), and severe summer droughts led to a rise in climate reporting since 2018, the report said. However, other crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic received more attention, and climate news also could not keep up with more structural topics, for example about the economy. However, “there seems to have been a permanent move towards more climate coverage because, even in 2022, the topic is more present than in the years before 2019, despite other global crises,” according to a press release.

The topic of climate took up between 1 and 2.4 percent of the total programming of public TV channels ARD, ZDF and WDR between 2021 and 2022, according to the report. Lead author Robin Tschötschel told newspaper tageszeitung that the nine-year period from 2009 to 2018 was a “lost decade for climate reporting”. The main ARD news programme “Tagesschau” mentioned climate on less than ten percent of all days during that period, the study found. Tschötschel said public broadcasters have a greater responsibility to cover climate change even if it is not on a given day’s policy agenda. “When the topic of climate is not actively discussed in politics, the media can put it on the agenda.”

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