Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


With the development of cable television, direct broadcast satellite and other new broadcast technologies, television systems throughout the world have been thrown into a period of rapid transition. Against this quickly evolving background the West German Constitutional Court has held for the last 33 years to a vision of television as a catalyst of community and servant of the democratic process. This Note is the first American examination of the legal basis for what has been a public broadcasting monopoly in West Germany. The Note offers a close analysis of the three seminal television decisions of the Constitutional Court, as well as a description of the public governance and changing reality of West German broadcasting today. It concludes by using the German model as an attempt to unhinge the American reader from some traditional premises about broadcasting and the first amendment, and by suggesting structural changes in both the private and public television systems of the United States.