The television heritage of private broadcasters is under threat

Local Saxon television programmes are sources of audiovisual memory. They have accompanied processes of mental, social, media and political change during the transformation and hinge period from 1990 to 1995 – and continue to do so today.

Preserving this audio-visual cultural asset is long overdue, as the programmes were mainly recorded on VHS consumer cassettes, which have already far exceeded their predicted durability; a smaller proportion was recorded on Beta SP cassettes, which are now also threatened with decay.

While the preservation of the cinematic heritage is increasingly becoming the focus of political and cultural action and promotion, this is hardly the case with the television heritage of non-public broadcasters.

As early as 2011, the signatory states to the “European Convention for the Protection of the Audiovisual Heritage” (of 8 November 2001) undertook “to guarantee the appropriate preservation of television productions for cultural, scientific and research purposes in the public interest”. (ETS No 184).

For the programmes of local private commercial broadcasters, however, there is still no central project, which would fulfil this obligation to a significant extent. Although the preservation of Saxony’s audio-visual heritage has been an active policy since 2016, various digitisation initiatives have led to a very heterogeneous picture with regard to the places of archiving, the basic, professional indexing and accessibility for science, research and re-use of the cultural heritage.

Preserving this television heritage always means:

  • the digitization (and possibly optimization) of analogue tape material
  • professional indexing according to a uniform standard
  • the controlled storage of the analogue source material according to archival standards.

The Leipzig Institute for Heimat and Transformation Research is involved in the preservation and cataloguing of this audio-visual heritage.

The Saxon Archive Law also provides for “documents of lasting value worth archiving”,

  • which arise in legal persons under private law,
  • all recordings, in particular pictures, films, sound recordings, irrespective of their form of storage, 

the possibility of transferring it as archive material to the Saxon State Archives.

Cf. Archivgesetz für den Freistaat Sachsen v. 17. Mai 1993 (SächsGVBl. S. 449), last amended by Article 25 of the Gesetz vom 26. April 2018 (SächsGVBl. S. 198).

Please find more on this topic:  

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