In the British Zone of occupied Germany, the military authorities quickly established Radio Hamburg to provide information to the population of the area. On 4 May 1945, the programme started with "This is Radio Hamburg, a station of the Allied Military Government". The British Control Commission appointed Hugh Greene, on secondment from the BBC, to manage the creation of public service broadcasting in their Zone. On 22 September 1945, Radio Hamburg became Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk, the single broadcasting organisation of the British Zone.
At first, NWDR had just one radio station, later known as NWDR1. In 1950, it introduced a regional station for the north, NWDR Nord (later to become NDR2), and a regional station for the west, NWDR West (later WDR2).
NWDR had been given the responsibility for broadcasting in West Berlin, partially due to the main transmitter being located in the British Zone of the city. On 1 June 1954, Sender Freies Berlin (SFB) was established and took over public broadcasting in West Berlin.
NDR continued to operate out of Hamburg, whilst the WDR was established in Cologne. The split was effective from 1 January 1956, although the station NWDR1 remained a joint operation with regional opt-outs.
The NWDR television service also remained a joint operation, from 1 April 1956 under the name Nord- und Westdeutscher Rundfunkverband (North and West German Broadcasting Federation - NWRV). The NDR and the WDR launched separate television services for their area in 1961.
NWDR was also the most active participant in ARD Das Erste, the joint German public television service.
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