Don't say German TV was always bad as back in the mid 90s when we had a satellite dish from all of the countries I found RTL, RTL II, Pro 7, Das Erste the most watchable, followed by Italian RAI 1,2,3 tied with RTP (Portuguese national channel) at close second. Spanish TV was as bad then as it is now.
Anyway, especially the German children programmes were so cool like Käpt'n Blaubär, The Show with the mouse, or Vampy where I watched animes dubbed in German. That helped me pick up some phrases and words. They also had nice own-produced talkshows like Arabella hosted by Arabella Kiesbauer. She looked so cutting-edge to me! German TV back then felt almost like US TV (lots of dubbed US shows/sitcoms). I guess reality TV helped diminish its quality? When did you notice the decline?