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This is a short list of the major (which are receiveable in most parts of Germany) German TV Stations. Sometimes a short description is given.

State television:
This are the TV stations which are paid for by the state (and so by the citizens themself (the rate is round about 15 US$)). These stations are not controlled by the state, but only paid by them. The government has nearly no influence on them. The interesting thing about these stations is that the advertising rules are very strict for those channels, no advertising after 20:00 is allowed.

main stations:
ARD - first German TV station
ZDF - nearly the same as ARD
regional stations:
These are stations which are aimed at certain areas of Germany, but you can receive them in whole Germany
RRB - for Berlin and Brandenburg
MDR - for East Germany
B3 - for Bavaria
WDR - for West Germany
N3 - for the North of Germany
SWF - for the South-West
H3 - for Hessen
other:
3Sat - not really sure about this, afaik it is a German-austrian station
Arte - German-French station (focused on culture)
Kika - children channel
Phoenix - documentation channel (airing the debates from the Bundestag)

Private TV stations:
These stations get no money from the state, they have to get all their money from advertisments. The private TV market is mainly split up into two companies: On the one hand the Kirch Group and on the other hand Bertelsmann.

Former Kirch Group:

These are the stations that where owned by Leo Kirch and his son. Leo Kirch is the biggest film dealer in Germany.

These four tv stations are now owned by Haim Saban:

Pro 7 - Kirch's flagship, controlled by his son, it is the second successful tv station after the ARD. They mainly broadcast American films and series. No sports.
Sat 1 - Controlled by Leo Kirch himself. Not very profitable. broadcasts sports (maybe one reason why it is not so successful, as the rights for sports are really expensive).
Kabel 1 - something like the daughter station for Pro 7, only broadcasts really old things
N24 - news-channel made to be a concurrent for NTV

What's happening to these channels is not known at the moment

DSF - German sports channel
Premiere - Kirch's digital Pay TV platform. tv.berlin - regional channel for Berlin
tv.münchen - regional channel for Munich
Hamburg 1 - regional channel for Hamburg

Bertelsmann:
for information about RTL look RTL
RTL
RTL 2
Super RTL

independent:
Vox - partly owned by Murdoch
9Live - started as a channel for women, then bought the rights for the Champions League. Now they are ripping off people with their call-in shows
NTV - first German news-only station. Associated with CNN (partly owned by RTL)
EuroNews - small news-channel
Eurosport - European sports channel
NBC - mainly airing computer shows, and some old films
HSE - Home Order Television
QVC - shopping channel
MTV
VIVA - german music station
VIVA + - second channel of VIVA founder Dieter Gorny
VH1

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