During its entire existence, the official TV program in the GDR has been quite limited. After a 3 year testing phase the Deutscher Fernsehfunk (DFF) aired permanently on January 3rd in 1956. The era of state-owned TV in the GDR had begun. On the occasion of the 20th birthday of the Republic, the repertoire was extended by one additional channel in 1969. Along with the start of the second channel, the Deutscher Fernsehfunk (DFF 2), the age of color television began as well. Because of the very limited choice of media in the GDR, only one single TV guide was published.
The “FF Dabei”, as the magazine was titled since 1969, was initially published under the name “Der Rundfunk” in 1946. After the importance of television grew in significance as a mass medium, the magazine was renamed “Funk und Fernsehen der DDR” in 1959. It was named “FF Dabei” in 1969 along the extension of the existing TV program. Along with the new name, the magazine's layout was changed as well and it was printed using the method of gravure printing from then on. Because of extra costs resulting from the colored design it was necessary to adjust the price of the magazine. The original price for the program printed in shades of gray was 30 Pfennig; after the redesign the new price of the weekly magazine changed to 50 Pfennig.
Because of the unique feature of being the only TV guide in the GDR, the “FF Dabei” was enormously popular since the very beginning of its existence. Already in 1956, the weekly edition counted about 450.000 copies. Because of its diverse content, the weekly amount of copies, which were already sold out after a few hours. Despite an edition of 1,5 Million copies during the 1980s, about half a million subscription requests were denied because an increase of the edition was impossible due to the chronic lack of printing paper.
In the course of the Wende the magazine was taken over by the publishing house “Gruner+Jahr” in July of 1990 and, just like many other print products, lost its significance quite rapidly. The market was flooded with publications from the West and the curiosity of the population about the “unknown New” could not be satisfied by the “FF Dabei” anymore. Even though the magazine's appearance was adjusted in an up to date fashion and only differed slightly from its Western counterparts, the “FF Dabei” was eventually taken from the market in 1996.
Our collection holds numerous copies of the “FF Dabei” as well as its predecessor “Funk und Fernsehen der DDR”. We are, however, still missing copies from the 1950s. Do you perhaps own some copies from the 1950s or early 1960s which you could provide us with?! We would be happy to read from you!
In addition to our blog today we have also created a picture gallery on Facebook with sample copies from different decades.
Editor's note: The blog post first appeared on 3 December 2015.