ARTE is a German/French culture channel on TV. The acronym stands for
"Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne", it was founded
on April 30, 1991; broadcasting started May 30, 1992. Its offices
are located in Strasbourg.
Article 2 of the founding contract states as its goal "to conceive TV programs (...)
that have in a comprehensive sense cultural and international character
and are suitable to promote understanding and harmonization between the
peoples of Europe" (translation mine). ARTE therefore maintains partnerships with other tv stations:
RTBF of Belgium, SRG SSR idée suisse of Switzerland, TVE of Spain,
TVP of Poland, ORF of Austria, YLE of Finland, NPS of the Netherlands
BBC of Great Britain and SVT of Sweden.
As with all European institutions, the actual implementation is quite complex.
ARTE has 2 "members": the German "ARTE Deutschland TV GmbH" and the French
"ARTE France" which are responsible for half of 3/4 of the program, ie
37,5% each. They themselves again consist of multiple companies which
create and produce the actual content or acquire it otherwise. The missing
last fourth apparently comes from the partner stations. The budget for 2004
is pretty exactly 350 million Euro, financed via
the TV licence fees in France and Germany. There are no commercial breaks
on ARTE, sponsoring however is accepted. The program is broadcast in multiple languages.
There are many ways to receive ARTE ... you can find it in most European cable
networks or via satellite on ASTRA 1C at 10994 MHz with horizontal polarization.
I like their program a lot, not only because there are no obtrusive ads, but because of the interesting documentaries. For example about the indigenous people of Siberia, very soothing indeed. They do show movies too, mostly artsy ones. You do get surprises there sometimes, like zapping right into a closeup of a blowjob. But an artsy blowjob, and that's ok, at least in Europe :)