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Culture

German Funeral Directors Plan 'Death TV'

Channel surfers shouldn't be surprised when they come across a station this fall featuring programming on mourning, cemeteries and obituaries 24 hours a day. German morticians plan a TV channel whose focus is on dying.

Cemeteries will get top billing on the new TV channel

Reports on centuries-old rituals around death, obituaries made by surviving friends and family members or information on German funeral bureaucracy are what viewers can expect who tune in to the television station planned by the country's Association of Funeral Directors.

"We want the channel to help remove the taboos around the subject of death," said Kerstin Gernig, a spokesperson for the association.

The channel, which is scheduled to begin broadcasting on satellite and on the Internet in November, is aimed at Germany's expanding elderly population. Demographic changes in the country mean that the number of people over 60 is growing much more quickly than younger groups.

Information about funerals will be on offer

But among this senior group, death is still a subject largely suppressed or ignored until it happens. Then, survivors are often at a loss over what to do with their feelings, or how to navigate the practical matters around funerals and estates.

"We don't want to proselytize," said Gernig. "We want to provide information so people know everything that is involved."

The channel will be funded partly by obituaries that can be commissioned or produced by loved ones for the deceased, partly by partnerships the station hopes to establish with companies which produce products and services for older people, or facilities like nursing homes. The station does not plan on featuring conventional advertisements.

To be produced in cooperation with Brandenburg-based EosTV, planners are striving to avoid any kind of sensationalism. An ethics advisory body will supervise the programming, which is to always be "serious and respectful," according to Gernig. Representatives from Germany's two main Christian churches will sit on the ethics council, she said, although there are no plans as of yet to have a Muslim member on board.

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