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Bertelsmann Looks to Boost Country Music in Germany With Deals for CMA Awards, New Radio Station

Berlin, Germany
RICOWde/Getty Images

Berlin, Germany.

BERLIN — The CMA Awards are returning to the airwaves in Germany as part of a larger push by media conglomerate Bertelsmann to boost American country music’s presence in Europe’s second-largest music market.   

The Bertelsmann Content Alliance plans to expand its music, TV and radio business in Germany to capitalize on the genre's popularity there. This November, the CMA Awards will be broadcast by VOX, RTL's free-to-air-TV channel owned by Bertelsmann. In addition, RTL has licensed CMA's other two TV properties, CMA Fest and CMA Country Christmas, for RTLplus. The three shows will also be available at Mediengruppe RTL's video streaming service TVNOW. In October, RTL Radio will launch a new 24/7 online radio station, featuring a mix of contemporary country hits and other track going back 10-or-so years. The radio station, available online and via the RTL Radio app, is presented by Germany's well-known breakfast show DJ Arno Müller, a passionate fan of modern country music.

The deal was brokered through the BCA by Hartwig Masuch, CEO of Bertelsmann’s publishing and music division BMG, which in 2017 made its biggest label acquisition to date with the takeover of Nashville-based country music powerhouse Broken Bow Music Group, with an explicit plan to develop country's international appeal. 

Masuch said, “country music is one of the most dynamic genres in the world of music, and I am convinced there is a huge opportunity for country in Germany. We are delighted to work with the Country Music Association and our colleagues at media group RTL to create this significant promotional platform across the GSA territories." 

Added Sascha Schwingel, managing director of VOX, "Since the 17th century, country music has been an inherent part of European music history. We at RTL are delighted to bring one of the biggest country music events in the world to German viewers at VOX, RTLplus and TVNOW."    

RTL Radio Germany chief Stephan Schmitter noted that country music had a “huge audience” in Germany and the new genre-specific radio station “will let the hearts of country music lovers beat faster

The news that the CMA Awards is to return to Germany comes as the CMA prepares a special country focus at this year's Reeperbahn Festival (Sept.18-21) in Hamburg with a panel and networking reception and an artist showcase. The showcase, titled "Neon Nashville" will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 18 and will display the diversity of some of Country's rising artists including BMG's Blanco Brown of ’The Git Up' fame. The Reeperbahn Festival initiative has been driven by CMA's German Task Force which has been set up in response to increase interest in the genre in Germany. 

Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said, "We are thrilled to be bringing the CMA Awards and our other TV properties to Germany. With the ever-increasing demand for country music in Europe, we're excited for international viewers to have the opportunity to experience these shows that are so important to the country music community." 

The CMA Awards has not been broadcast in Germany, the fourth biggest music market in the world, since 2012. This year's CMA Awards falls on Nov. 13 and will be hosted by Carrie Underwood, together with special guest hosts Reba Mc Entire and Dolly Parton.


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