Discoverability of general interest content: German media regulators publish call for application

posted on 06 September, 2021   (public)

Implementing new provisions to strengthen plurality and take into account the increasing importance of findability in an online environment


On 1st September 2021, the German Regulatory Authorities (“Die Medienanstalten”) issued a call for application for the statutory determination procedure of general interest content from private providers.

The tender follows the introduction of specific provisions to facilitate the discoverability of “public value” content in the Interstate Media Treaty (Medienstaatsvertrag - MStV) which was adopted in April and came into force in November 2020.

Section 84 (Paragraphs 3 to 6) of the Treaty which deals with the discoverability in user interfaces has entered into force on 1st September 2021. The provisions introduce both negative and positive safeguards to secure pluralism through non-discrimination and findability and prominence of general interest content. They aim to boost the findability of quality content by highlighting media offerings which are particularly relevant for the diversity of opinions and to incentivise and reward private providers who invest in public value content.

The German Regulatory Authorities have set out the procedure for the determination of public value content in the newly published Public Value Statutes.

  • Criteria include different types of socially relevant content, i.e. the time share of reporting on political and contemporary events, the time share of regional and local information, the ratio between in-house and externally produced programme content, the proportion of accessible programmes, the ratio between trained and trainee staff involved in programme production, the quota of European works and the proportion of offers for young target groups.
  • Lists of the offerings which are to benefit from easy discoverability will be published, and shall be taken into account by user interface providers when implementing discoverability.
  • The concrete implementation of "easy discoverability" is left to the appreciation of providers of user interfaces (freedom of design).
  • The obligations also apply to internet gatekeepers, covering broadcasting and broadcasting-like services, as well as software-based applications that serve primarily to provide access to such content.

Applications can be submitted until 30 September to the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia, the competent regulatory authority for the procedure. An evaluation of the applications and a decision on the award is expected by spring 2022.

Source: Website of the German Regulatory Authorities

Article 7a of the revised Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD) 2018/1808/EU states that “Member States may take measures to ensure the appropriate prominence of audiovisual media services of general interest”. Germany is one of the few countries which has transposed Art. 7a so far.
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