When are the adverts on German TV?

Depending on which channel you are watching, there are times when it feels that there is more advertising than programming.  Of course, that’s not usually the case, and in fact there are strict rules governing advertising on television.

The first main difference between Germany and a many other countries is that even public service broadcasters are allowed to supplement their license fee income with advertising.

©iStockphoto.com/esemelweThey are, however, only allowed to do this from Monday to Saturday before 8pm, and not on public holidays.  After 8pm some programmes may still have sponsors.

They also intersperse the individual adverts with short animations, most notably the Mainzelmännchen on ZDF.

Private channels on the other hand can show advertisements at any time of the day and on any day.

However even then some rules apply:

  1. the advertisements may not take up more than 12 minutes per hour of airtime
  2. the commercial breaks must be at least 20 minutes apart
  3. programmes for children may not have commercial breaks, only commercials between the programmes
  4. special rules apply for films – here the number of commercial breaks is defined by the length of the film

I think I’m going to try and see if the channels really do keep to these rules.  I have to admin, that at the moment I hardly see any advertisements, as I record most programmes to watch later in the evening, so I just skip over them!

(Photo ©iStockphoto.com/esemelwe)


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. craiglistpostings99 says

    These are really nice rules made by GERMAN intellectuals.They show signs of regularity and discipline of German Nation.I think that these points should be adapted by all Government and Public Service Broadcaster all over the World.This will definitely save the TV viewers from the headache they get from long commercials or dozens of short commercial in half an hour long play.Courtesy of Pay Per Click Services


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