The State Media Authority of Lower Saxony (NLM) is in charge of licensing and supervising as well as promoting commercial radio and television broadcasting in Lower Saxony, Germany. On nationwide issues and services, NLM cooperates with the other 14 State Media Authorities (die medienanstalten) in Germany in the course of their joint framework. The basic work of NLM deals with interstate treaties (especially the Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting and the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media), European directives (especially the Television without Frontiers Directive), and the State Media Law of Lower Saxony. NLM was founded in 1984. The authority has two governing bodies. Director Andreas Fischer is head of administration and the legal representative of the authority. The assembly, being pluralistically composed while representing major societal groups in Germany, is chaired by Elisabeth Harries.
The key responsibilities of NLM are:
Licensing of Commercial Broadcasters and their services
NLM grants licenses for TV channels and radio stations in Lower Saxony and for broadcasting services transmitted nationwide via satellite.
Programme/Telemedia Service Monitoring
Commercial radio and television broadcasting is subject to legal programming requirements, the implementation of which is monitored by NLM. Since 2003, NLM has been responsible for the protection of minors against harmful media content provided by both, broadcasting and telemedia – especially the Internet – in case the provider is located in Lower Saxony.
The promotion of media literacy has become one of the key responsibilities of NLM in the last years. NLM especially offers advice to teachers, parents and other persons who are involved in the education of children and adolescents. More than the traditional media, the Internet provides content which young people have to be protected against. Partly in cooperation with the citizens’ media facilities, NLM has launched training-activities for the different target groups to solve this problem.
The State Media Law supports the promotion of citizens’ media in Lower Saxony. Today, NLM promotes 15 non-commercial citizens’ media stations: 10 private radio stations, 2 TV stations, and 3 stations offering both services. Most of the citizens’ media stations in Lower Saxony have been on air for about ten years. In citizens’ media, people of the German society have the opportunity to design, produce and broadcast TV and/or radio programmes. Legally, the citizens’ media have 3 tasks: realization of individual freedom of opinion, complementing the local media landscape through journalistic contributions, and conveying media skills. Local news coverage should constitute a main focus of the programme.
NLM supports the development and implementation of electronical media infrastructures and emerging broadcast transmission technologies. They encourage and help operators digitising their studio production and transmission platforms.
The digitisation of terrestrial TV was launched in October 2003 with the introduction of a commercial DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting - terrestrial) service providing 22 TV channels in the region Hannover/Braunschweig. In the meantime, the DVB-T service has scaled up to 28 channels being received in densely populated areas. In rural areas, however, 12 public-service channels are transmitted. As of 2017, the commercial introduction of the second generation DTT system will be launched in Germany replacing the DVB-T service. Again Lower Saxony will be at the forefront of system introduction. The new TV system will be based on a DVB-T2 transmission container filed up with HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) encoded video content. The commercial use of a system combining the two state of the art technologies DVB-T2 and HEVC is unique. It allows increasing the number of programs and providing superior technical picture quality of Full HD (1080p) while consuming the same frequency bandwidth as the parent system DVB-T.
Digital Radio started in Lower Saxony with the introduction of a DAB+ ensemble in August 2011. The ensemble contains ten private and three public services and is broadcasted all over Germany on channel 5 C (VHF-Band III). Since Q4/2011, public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) has complemented the nationwide DAB+ ensemble with the distribution of their own DAB+ service in Lower Saxony composing a number of eight radio programmes. In contrast, commercial radio stations based in Lower Saxony do not see a business opportunity in the provision of their programmes via DAB+ for various reasons. In order to overcome these restrictions, NLM in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has initiated a research project investigating in technical solutions going forward. Scientific work is carried out by the Technical University of Braunschweig.