Das Erste is the flagship national television channel of the ARD association of public broadcasting corporations in Germany. ARD and ZDF – "the Second" German Television Channel – together comprise the public service television broadcasters in the German television system. Das Erste is jointly operated by the nine regional public broadcasting corporations that are members of the ARD.
The channel was officially launched on 25 December 1952 as NWDR-Fernsehen and renamed to Deutsches Fernsehen in 1954. Since 1996, the official brand is Das Erste; the full name Erstes Deutsches Fernsehen (First German Television) is still used before every major news edition. In colloquial speech, the station is usually called Erstes Programm ("First Channel"), or by its metonym, ARD.