- Der schwarze Kanal was a series of political propaganda programmes broadcast weekly between 1960 and 1989 by East German television
Der schwarze Kanal facts
- Each edition was made up of recorded extracts from recent West German television programmes re-edited to include a Communist commentary
- The programme was hosted by Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler and began on 21 March 1960
- The name "Black channel" is a play on words: in the German language "black channel" is a euphemism by plumbers for a sewer (compare English soil pipe)
- The name and the concept of the programme were originally a reaction to a West German programme named Die rote Optik ("The red viewpoint") authored by journalist Thilo Koch, which ran between 1958 and 1960 and analysed East German television clips
- Although the programme was primarily intended for domestic (East German) consumption, the programme makers (at least in the early days) hoped that those in the West who could receive DFF would also watch
- The geography of the divided Germany meant that West German television signals (particularly ARD) could be received fairly readily in most of East Germany
- Areas with no reception (black) such as parts of Eastern Saxony around Dresden were jokingly referred to as "Valley of the Clueless" (Tal der Ahnungslosen)
- West German acronyms ZDF and ARD accounted for Zentrales Deutsches Fernsehen Außer Rügen und Dresden (Central German TV except Rügen and Dresden)
- Whilst radio signals from international broadcasters like the BBC and the American-backed local station RIAS in West Berlin could be jammed, it was diplomatically and technically awkward to block West German television as it would have been impossible to do so (with any degree of effectiveness) without affecting reception in parts of West Germany as well which (apart from being outlawed by treaty) in turn could have prompted the West Germans to retaliate against Eastern broadcasts
- The solution, as seen by Deutscher Fernsehfunk, was to record items from the ARD and ZDF that were unwelcome in the East or provided a different spin on a news story and replay the items on the main DFF1 channel with a commentary "explaining" what was really "meant" by the item, or how the item was "untrue" or "flawed"
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