So ARD and ZDF alternate weeks with the breakfast show, each broadcasting under the same name but with a completely different look and style by the looks of it.
Apparently this strange set up dates back to the collapse of the Berlin Wall when the two PSBs launched a lunchtime news service to report on the reunification and did it on an alternating basis for financial reasons.
When they launched a permanent Breakfast service a few years later (after some temporary Gulf War specials that were well received) the same alternating pattern was adopted.
The alternating pattern came a little earlier as part of the "Vormittagsprogramm" ("Pre-Noon Programming").
The joint ARD ZDF Vormittagsprogramm started in 1966. Back then the Vormittagsprogramm was solely aimed at East German shift workers, to provide an alternative to East German TV, and thus was also only broadcast on transmitters that covered the GDR. Before 1966 ARD did it themselves, but the ZDF came in to coproduce mainly because their transmitters didn't cover the GDR as well.
Since 1981 it was broadcast on the whole of West Germany and the focus on serving just East Germany was gradually removed.
The alternting pattern was introduced for the Mittagsmagazin in October 1989, a month before the fall of the wall.
Up until the early 90s ARD and ZDF actually often had a closedown at around 1pm until the evening programming started.
(notice that it's ZDF heute playing, but in the end you get a testcard saying "WDR1")
And until the mid-1990s, ARD's late afternoon and early evening (pre-8pm) programming was regional -- consisting mostly of regional news magazines, cartoons, sitcoms, and other mostly family-friendly programming, all of which differed depending on the ARD broadcaster in question. Here, for instance, is a 1989 continuity announcement from Frankfurt-based HR, serving the
This is how these regional programming blocs appeared in German listings magazines; in this case, the lineup is for the West (WDR's service area), but abbreviated listings for neighboring regions are also provided:
These special arrangements between ARD and ZDF go way back. This is how Timothy Green described them in his 1972 book about television around the world:
"At the Olympics, ARD covers one day's events live, while ZDF has summaries later; next day it is ZDF's turn for the live broadcasts. [...] Apollo moon-shots have been covered alternately; ARD did all the live televising on Apollo 12, ZDF took Apollo 13, ARD Apollo 14. When Apollo 13 ran into difficulties on the way to the moon and made its dramatic return to earth ZDF had the splashdown exclusively, although ARD were permitted to show it later on the regular news."
By the way, here is long clip of ARD's Apollo 11 moon landing coverage (produced by Cologne-based WDR):
Last edited by WW Update on 1 December 2020 5:47pm