Wednesday 30 October 2019

der schwarze kanal

With West German terrestrial broadcasts penetrating most of East Germany outside of Dresden and the Baltic coast (signal jamming out of the question as it would affect the sender’s reception as well because of the territories’ geography, the excluded area in the far east bordering Poland was referred affectionately as Tal der Ahnungslosen—Valley of the Uninformed), the DDR from 1960 until 1989 (ceasing broadcasts on this day) aired counter-programming in the form of a weekly clip-show that took extracts from Western television repackaged to include a Communist spin. Originally created as a foil to a West German news segment that fact-checked East German reporting, the agitprop “Soil Pipe” became an outlet for parodying western programming to the point where it was impossible to distinguish between sincerity and satire. Concluding its run just days ahead of the borders opening, the East German television service (Deutscher Fernsehfunk, DFF) declared itself “free from government influence” during the last episode.