I. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE COMPANY
The purpose of the company is the collection, processing and distribution of news, archival and image material of any kind. For this purpose, a global network of editors and reporters provides their own reporting, which is impartial and independent of any ideologies, economic and financial groups or governments. This is stipulated in the articles of association of the German Press Agency. Employees and management alike feel bound by this.
All types of media are supplied with this material: newspapers, magazines and radio stations as well as online and mobile service providers. Parliaments, associations, foundations and companies are dpa customers and represent, alongside the media, increasingly important sources of revenue.
With its news products, the company operates mainly in Germany. The 177 shareholders of dpa are also drawn from its circle of domestic customers. However, dpa services are now also offered and distributed abroad in more than a hundred countries, in German as well as in Arabic, English and Spanish. As a result, dpa helps to spread German issues and the German perspective abroad and to promote the important values of press freedom and independence.
1. Overall economic and sector-specific conditions
The German economy continued to lose momentum in 2019, as figures from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) illustrate. During the longest growth phase the federal republic has seen, the price-adjusted gross domestic product rose for the tenth time in succession, but it was only 0.6% above the previous year’s figure. The German economy was still growing at 1.5% in 2018. Noteworthy in this connection is the significant and above-average growth in the information and communication sector (2.9%). This is likely to have had a positive effect on the businesses of publishers and platforms as a whole.
Despite the slightly downward trend, the core market of the German Press Agency remains stable. At 53.9%, German newspapers continued to reach well over half the population in 2019 (2018: 55.8%). The total reach of the newspapers is 38.1 million readers aged over 14 and thus only slightly below the previous year (39.3 million). There were some slight increases. The readership of national subscription papers went up to 3.3 million compared to 3.1 million the previous year. With 30.9 million consumers (2018: 37.1) regional subscription newspapers continue to have the highest reach compared to titles bought at newsstands and national titles. These figures were published by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Media-Analyse (agma).
According to the German Audit Bureau of Circulation (IVW), the number of daily newspapers sold, including Sunday editions and Sunday newspapers, continued to decline. The fourth quarter shows a fall of around 4% compared to the same quarter of the previous year. By contrast, the industry is seeing double-digit growth rates for e-papers. Sales of electronic newspapers increased by 17% compared to 2018 and sales of general interest magazines by 20%, in line with the previous year (19%). Overall, e-papers account for an increasingly large share of the total circulation. IVW reports that 1.62 million (2018: 1.39 million) digital newspapers were sold in the fourth quarter of 2019. These figures are an encouraging signal for the industry.
Overall, the majority of publishers expect it to take another five years or so for digital revenues to compensate for print losses. This emerged from a survey conducted by the Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV), the results of which were presented in February. According to the survey, further developed paid-content models, new digital distribution concepts, newsletters and podcasts will lead to a reversal of the trend. The BDZV study concludes that digital business will also continue to gain in relevance in the short term. Almost one in two respondents (47%) expects an increase in paid content revenues of more than 20% this year already.
The freedom of the press and journalism to operate unfettered by political and economic interests remains under severe pressure all over the world. According to “Reporters Without Borders”, at least 49 journalists were killed in 2019 as a direct consequence of their journalistic activities. The most dangerous countries are Syria and Mexico, each with 10 deaths recorded. The number of abducted media workers is also alarmingly high. By the end of 2019, “Reporters Without Borders” had counted 57 kidnapped persons, many of whom have not been heard of for a long period of time. In December 2019 a total of 389 media workers were imprisoned worldwide – including 25 of them in Turkey.
The deteriorating situation for journalists is not a phenomenon limited to war and crisis regions. For example, investigations continue into the murders of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak. The case in Malta has led to the resignation of the head of government while the former Slovak public prosecutor has also been arrested. Both cases underline the great social and political importance of such crimes.
In Europe, the situation remains critical for the media and journalists in many countries. Worrying developments can be seen particularly in Serbia and the Czech Republic. Germany itself was able to improve its ranking from 15th to 13th place. However, this was mainly due to the worsening of the situation in other countries. According to “Reporters Without Borders”, the number of physical attacks on journalists and photographers in Germany has risen again, totalling 22 cases in 2018. The European Centre for Press & Media Freedom (ECPMF) in Leipzig reported a lower number of 14 incidents so far for 2019. At the same time, it observes that attacks on the press can now be described as a “new normal”.
Despite some alarming developments, positive trends were also evident. The current issue of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, for example, shows that faith in the classic media has continued to rise in Germany (2019: 49%, up 5 percentage points). This means Germans regard newspapers, online platforms, radio and TV as the most trustworthy information suppliers.
The figures reinforce dpa’s resolve to do its utmost in strengthening the freedom of the press and boosting measures to protect journalists. dpa can only fulfil its role as a provider of accurate reports, images, videos and radio bulletins to the highest journalistic standards in a free and democratic media environment.