Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Redefining Television

The Adolf Grimme Prize and the Departure from Mass Instruction in the 1960s

Felix Dümcke, KWI

Online (Zoom) & Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), Raum 106, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

The television era in Germany commenced with aspirations to democratize the Germans – an ambition prominently reflected in the Adolf Grimme Prize. The German Adult Education Association aimed to extend its influence over the burgeoning mass medium through this award. By the 1970s, however, the notion of television as an electronic adult education centre was set aside in favour of leveraging television’s inherent capabilities. The lecture will explore the shift away from the educational emphasis of the Adolf Grimme Prize, thereby inviting a reconsideration of the media landscape during the television era.

To this day, the advent of private broadcasters in 1984 is viewed as a pivotal moment that redefined television in the Federal Republic of Germany, transforming it from an educational tool into a medium of entertainment. Yet proponents of commercial television were not the only advocates for the movement toward “proximity to the citizen”. The shift from educational to entertainment programming can also be linked to anti-commercialization efforts: Television criticism related to the Adolf Grimme Prize, which opposed “the commercialization and depoliticization of programming” on the cusp of broadcasting deregulation, also played a role in distancing television from its former association with elitist educational objectives.