With the breakup of the socialist governments in Middle and Eastern Europe in 1989/90, the arbitrary and, at times, draconian political censorship was no more. As in the old West Germany, protecting young minds would become the criterium for judging potentially problematic content. Furthermore, the privatization/Americanization of the music markets and a displacing of various artists identified with the socialist past and new local acts alike was perceived as a form of “economic censorship”.
Die Ärzte: the songs “Claudia hat ein Schäferhund” (Claudia Has A German Shepard), “Schlaflied” (Lullaby) and “Geschwisterliebe” (Sibling Love) led to the blacklisting of their albums Die Ärzte and Debil (Mentally Deficient). (The restriction of the latter was revoked in 2004) (1, 2). In addition, because of the image of their mascot, Gwendolyne, the 1987 album Ab 18 (18 And Over) also went on the blacklist. 3 Sometimes the band got around the censorship during live shows by getting the fans to sing the songs. VIDEO A The uncut version of their 2007 video “Junge” (Boy) received a rating of 16 and over, while the G rated version satirized censorship procedures. VIDEO B
Blacklisting: Since 1985 the BPjM (the German regulatory agency monitoring content objectionable to young people) placed 7207 items on their blacklist. These included 668 records and tapes. 40% of these were cited for promoting violence, 12% because of racist content and 0,11% due to drug references.. The restrictions meant that the listed items could not be advertised, openly displayed or sold to minors under the age of 18. Nor could they be re-released in newer forms such as CD, DVD, licensed mp3 downloads, etc. These decisions were not made public, so as to insure that any resulting publicity would not serve to promote the works. Exempted from the restrictions were works that already possessed a rating from the FSK (the self administered rating system applied by the German film industry). Content breaching other laws may also be subject to seizure.
The legal representative overseeing youth-appropriate content for MTV, Heike Leidiger, explains the legal guidelines and applications for programing suitable for young audiences at MTV (and since 2004, VIVA). VIDEO C
WIZO: the radical anarchist Punk band, whose lyrics openly displayed their RAF sympathies, got into non-political difficulties of copyright infringement when they covered “All That She Wants” by Ace Of Base without that group’s permission. Ace Of Base sued to have all copies of the record recalled. VIDEO D
Slime: Recordings of the song, “Bullenschweine” (Police Pigs) VIDEO E were confiscated in the former West Germany because the lyrics were considered as encouragement to criminal acts and denigration of the police. 4
Saccara: a radical right wing group whose recording, Der letzte Mann (The Last Man) was blacklisted. 5 Here an excerpt of the so-called home movie by the band, accompanied by the anti-Nazi song “Schrei nach Liebe” (Cry Of Love) by Die Ärzte. VIDEO F
Rammstein: In 1997, Rammstein was briefly banned from all MTV broadcasts and in 2002 after the massacre in Erfurt they were also temporarily banned by VIVA. One song in particular, “Ich will” (I Want) was also banned in Hungary by the local broadcast regulating authority. VIDEO G
Anima Sound System: In 2000, the band remixed the Hungarian national anthem for their maxi-single “Himnusz”. Members of the public, as well parliamentary officials of the conservative Smallowners‘ Party complained of the improper use of the hymn and denigration of national symbols. Unfortunately there is no video clip. VIDEO H
The Media Act of 1996: The Media Act created the basis for the transformation from the State radio monopoly to a dual system (public and private). Furthermore, it set up a parliamentary broadcast regulating authority, ORTT, to monitor inappropriate content in video clips broadcast on public and private television (e.g. VIVA Hungary). 6