Invisible Europe - Patterns in German TV Annual Reviews 1999-2008
School of Humanities and Social Sciences Jacobs University Bremen Bremen, Germany
With the two European Union enlargements in 2004 and 2007, the European economic space and interconnectedness has increased; however, the strengthened political and economic ties do not translate into an increase in the prominence of European issues in German public broadcaster's annual TV reviews. Annual TV reviews allow for a longitudinal assessment of trends in television programs as they visually summarize the major events of a year. To assess the hypothesis that the EU is mostly invisible despite Europe's increased political and economic importance, the distribution of German, European, US American and other foreign topics in the annual reviews of the ARD (German public TV broadcaster) is quantified by manually coding of the material from 1999 to 2008 using an internationally standardized coding scheme. The process is complemented with the usage of the beta version of the Key Visual Candidate Identification Software, which extracts Key Visuals - image sequences of about 6 to 14 seconds, which condense the essence of events similar to key words - using Computer Science technology, thereby permitting the tracking of patterns unnoticed by the human observer. Next to the analysis of the material, qualitative interviews with the producers and editors-in-chief responsible for the ARD annual reviews are used to address the consciousness of choices regarding European topic selection. Further, the German material is compared to US annual reviews from CBS, NBC and ABC, which undergoes the same coding and analysis process. All results are contrasted to the patterns observed in Ludes' research on TV news in the United States, West and East Germany from 1952 to 1998, which identified the following trends: renationalization, depolitization, Americanization and visualization (Ludes, Multimedia and Multi-Moderne: Schlüsselbilder, 2001). In addition, the paper discusses the significance of the results in light of the necessity of a European democratic public sphere.