Tatort (Crime scene) is a German language police procedural television series that has been running continuously since 1970 with some 30 feature-length episodes per year, which makes it the longest-running German TV-drama. Developed by the German television channel ARD, it is unique in its approach, in that it is jointly produced by all of the station's regional public-service broadcasters whereby every regional station contributes a number of episodes to a common pool. Therefore, the series is a collection of different police stories where different police teams each solve crimes in their respective city. Uniqueness in architecture, customs and dialects of the cities is therefore a distinctive part of the series and often the city, not the police force is the real main character of an episode. The concept of local stations only producing a couple of shows per year has also enabled the shows to be longer (90 minutes) and more fleshed out psychologically than other weekly TV dramas.
The first episode was broadcast on 29 November 1970. Episodes are broadcast on ARD's main channel Das Erste on Sunday evening at the prime viewing time of 8.15 pm (just after the 8 o'clock Tagesschau news) around three times a month. Reruns are often shown by various regional ARD stations and on foreign broadcasters. Next to the member stations of the ARD, the National Austrian broadcasting corporation Österreichischer Rundfunk joined the production pool in 1971 and airs the program on its ORF 2 channel. Switzerland's Schweizer Fernsehen joined the pool from 1990 to 2001 and again in 2011 and distributes its episodes through its channel SRF 1.
The series Polizeiruf 110 by ARD's regional broadcasters Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR), Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) is closely related to the Tatort format and shares the same program slot on Das Erste.