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 174 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
Economic development in Germany in 2020 was dominated by the corona pandemic. The national economy slid into a deep recession, similar to the financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), price-adjusted gross domestic product in 2020 was five per cent lower than in the previous year (+0.6 per cent). Other indicators show that the German economy has had to cope with huge slumps. The Federal Statistical Office reports noticeable declines in exports (–9.9 per cent) and imports (–8.6 per cent). Employment figures also show a negative trend. After more than 14 years, employment growth in Germany ended in 2020 and fell by 1.1 per cent.
Despite the slightly downward tendency, the core market of the German Press Agency remains stable. The transformation of the media industry is reflected in the development of print readership and the use of digital products. While circulation numbers in the print sector continue to decline, digital business continues to grow. The pandemic seems to have given new impetus to this trend.
German newspapers continued to reach more than half of the population in 2020 (52 per cent) (2019: 53.9 per cent). The total reach of the papers was 36.8 million readers aged 14 and over, slightly below the previous year (38.1 million). With 29.9 million readers (compared to 30.9 million in the previous year), regional subscription newspapers remained the medium with the highest reach. The figures for daily newspapers sold also declined in 2020. The papers were read daily by 8.9 million people in 2020 (2019: 9.7 million). The readership of national subscription papers again bucked the trend. In 2020, these titles reached 3.7 million people daily (2019: 3.3 million). These figures were published by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Media-Analyse (agma).
The German Audit Bureau of Circulation (IVW) confirms the trend of recent years: While print circulations also fell slightly in 2020, electronic paper and paid content news offerings continue to grow in popularity. Sales of e-papers rose by around a fifth year-on-year in the third quarter of 2020* and totalled 1.9 million copies (2019: 1.6 million).
The number of daily newspapers sold, including Sunday editions and Sunday newspapers, continues to fall. The third quarter of 2020, shows a decline of 5.3 per cent in sales. This equates to an average of 14.2 million copies per publication day (15.0 million copies in the same quarter of the previous year). The general-interest press is also struggling. For example, noticeably fewer magazines were sold in the fourth quarter of 2020 with 59.3 million copies (previous year’s quarter: 78.9 million).
The sales figures of weekly newspapers developed more positively. With 1.7 million copies sold in the fourth quarter of 2020 (previous year: 1.6 million), these were able to record an increase in circulation of 2.6 per cent in total print and digital sales.
The signs point towards increasing digitisation. The “E-Paper-Study 2020” of the BDZV (German Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers) found that one in eight newspapers sold is now an e-paper. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, e-paper circulation rose by 20 per cent to more than two million copies.
Other indicators make it clear that digital business is growing in importance and increasingly setting the agenda for the future of the industry. The IVW reports that the use of portals and news platforms has grown noticeably compared to the previous year. In 2020, a total of 15 per cent more page views and seven per cent more website visits were generated than in 2019. A remarkable 70% of all visits are attributable to smartphones and tablets which will have a significant impact on the development of new business models.
The results of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020 for Germany support this trend. The study reveals that 82 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds now use the internet to find out about news events. For 72 per cent, the web is also their main news source. The use of podcasts increased noticeably. Here, too, the young target group plays a pioneering role, with 54 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they listen to podcasts.
* Owing to a hacker attack on the IT systems of the FUNKE Mediengruppe, IVW figures for the daily newspapers in the fourth quarter of 2020 were not available at the time this report was compiled.