Public Value of Community Media – Case Study Schleswig-Holstein



Community media (CM) or non-commercial local radio stations provide important media functions for the local public sphere that neither the first two pillars of the broadcasting system - public and private broadcasting - nor by the local press fulfil. The public value provided by community media thus makes them an indispensable player in the local media landscape. However, CM neither generate advertising revenue like private broadcasters, nor do they have the financial cushion of public service broadcasting. As a result, they are dependent on public funding. While the funding of CM is already institutionalized in other European countries, the funding structures in Germany vary greatly between the federal states and the financial resources available to the various CM diverge significantly. In Schleswig-Holstein, the two CM -“Freies Radio Neumünster” and “Freies Radio Fratz Flensburg” – face particular challenges because there is no permanent funding structure that is independent from the state.

Against this background, Paula Nitschke and Jeffrey Wimmer compiled the expert report “Tasks, costs and funding requirements of the Schleswig-Holstein community media”. The report was commissioned by “Freies Radio Neumünster” and “Freies Radio Fratz”. It determines the financing needs of the two radio stations based on their tasks and outlines various financing options.

The analysis of the performance of CM in Schleswig-Holstein is primarily intended to contribute to the public discourse on local media and local publicity. The financing needs derived from the tasks and the list of costs are primarily aimed at political and institutional actors. In addition, the report also offers other media professionals at the local level (e.g. other CM) arguments and suggestions for further development. Based on guided interviews, an analysis of the content of CM, their current structures and funding, as well as existing academic research literature, the following recommendations were formulated:

  • Greater recognition of CM as providers of quality journalism and public value at the local level.
  • Securing the existence of “Freies Radio Fratz” and “Freie Radio Neumünster”, even under very challenging conditions (especially the Coronavirus pandemic).
  •  Establishment of a permanent and non-governmental funding structure for CM in Schleswig-Holstein.
  • Implementation of a needs-based form of funding by means of basic and special-purpose funding.


It remains to be seen how the funding of CM in Schleswig-Holstein will develop. In the meantime, the establishment of a permanent and non-governmental funding structure has also been formulated as a goal in the coalition agreement of the newly elected state government concluded on 22 June 2022.




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Current publications:

Nitschke, P. & Wimmer, J. (2022): „Aufgaben, Kosten und Finanzierungsbedarf der schleswig-holsteinischen, nichtkommerziellen Lokalradios (NKLs) in Neumünster und Flensburg“, wissenschaftliches Kurzgutachten im Auftrag von Freies Radio Fratz Flensburg und Freies Radio Neumünster. 15.04.2022. Link zum


Wimmer, J. (2021): Nichtkommerzieller lokaler Rundfunk und Partizipation im Wandel. In Behmer, M. et al. (Hg.).: Vielfalt vor Ort. Die Entwicklung des privaten Rundfunks in Bayern (1985 bis 2020). Bamberg: University Press, 473-482. 


Wimmer, J. (2017): Bürgerrundfunk im Wandel: Partizipation und Qualität. In: die medienanstalten – ALM GbR/Förster, S. (Hg.): Vom Urknall zur Vielfalt. 30 Jahre Bürgermedien in Deutschland. Berlin: Vistas, S. 233-241.


Wimmer, J. (2012): Partizipation und Bürgermedien. In: Lutz, Klaus/Rösch, Eike/Seitz, Daniel (Hg.): Partizipation und Engagement im Netz. Neue Chancen für Demokratie und Medienpädagogik. München: kopaed, 53- 62.


Wimmer, J. (2011): Illusion versus Zwang. Zum Umgang alternativer Medien mit ihren ökonomischen Grundlagen. In: Hüttner, B./Leidinger, C./Oy, G. (Hg.): Handbuch der Alternativmedien 2011. Berlin: AG Spak, 37- 48.



Senior Researcher and Teaching Associate
Media Reality
Media Reality