Germany | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2010

2010 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

  • The constitution guarantees freedoms of expression and of the press, though there are exceptions for hate speech, Holocaust denial, and Nazi propaganda.
  • In 2008, a controversial data-retention law came into effect, requiring telecommunication companies and internet-service providers (ISPs) to store information on citizens’ e-mail and telephone contacts, as well as their internet browsing habits, for up to six months, though the content of communications would not be retained. Amid serious criticism, the law remained under review by the Constitutional Court at the end of 2009.
  • An antiterrorism law that took effect in January 2009 grants German authorities greater power to conduct covert surveillance, including remote and secret searches of computers through the internet. It also includes provisions that threaten the right of journalists to protect their sources.
  • In November,the board of Germany’s national public television network ZDF declined to renew the contract of the network’s editor, Nikolaus Brender, citing “falling viewing figures.” The decision came despite a request from the network’s director to keep Brender in his position. Media monitoring groups such as the Vienna–based International Press Institute and the popular German news magazine Der Spiegel alleged that political interference played a significant role in the outcome.
  • Violence against journalists is rare, and there were no reported attacks on the media in 2009.
  • The print media are dominated by numerous regional papers, and a handful of national papers are also published.
  • In addition to ZDF and two national radio stations, there are 10 regional public broadcasting stations—run by independent bodies—that produce both radio and television content. A number of private stations also broadcast throughout the country.
  • The internet is open and largely unrestricted, but there is a legal ban on access to child pornography and Nazi propaganda, and the online activities of individuals under court-ordered surveillance are monitored. The internet was accessed by about 79 percent of the population in 2009.