Can public broadcasting be fixed?

About the events of ARD and the resignation of RBB Director Patricia Schlesinger, we wrote:

The daily press has been remarkably silent about the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) corruption scandal. But now director Patricia Schlesinger has been fired by the Broadcasting Board for “disloyalty and benefit” and was soon dropped by her colleagues at ARD because they feared the Schlesinger case would cast a shadow over the entire system. Because that’s basically what it’s about. It’s not about an individual’s misbehavior, it’s about the entire crumbling system.

In light of the fact that ARD is no longer fulfilling its cultural, educational, and media mission and is replacing objective reporting with political activism, it sounds like a mockery when WDR Director Tom Bohreau laments: “Thousands of employees at ARD do a good job every day for our programming, which should not be overshadowed by these allegations. Even if it is very dangerous.”

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If this is true, then more and more viewers will not say goodbye to the ruins of the announcers program. ARD doesn’t make a good program, neither in entertainment (fictional) nor in reporting and information from Time and the World (non-fiction), because ARD now sees itself as an educational, see gender and language manipulation, which only looks down on the viewer with contempt. For example, children’s television from both broadcasters became a propaganda playground for gay activists.

So far, the public service broadcasters ARD and ZDF have resisted every attempt at reform and have been able to prevent the modernization of the feudal system of public service broadcasting, in friendship with politicians of all stripes. When broadcasters talk about reforms, they usually mean a defense of power and an insecure economy with frequent demands for more and more fee money. In times of inflation, epidemics and declining real incomes.

As a reminder: in 2021, fee revenues amounted to 8.42 billion euros! It is the most expensive radio system in the world. Regional broadcast princes treat themselves to a base salary of €413,000 per year plus luxury offices, bonuses, company cars, expenses and drivers. When it comes to salaries, the managers and other notable employees of the stations trump the chancellor and even the head of state.

By what right? through rehabilitation? The fact that these employees think they live in the best Germany ever and report accordingly is easy to understand given the princely endowment. Envy debate? The proposal: the “fee scavengers” in the public service and the politicians who profit from it by garnished reports will in the future dispense with compulsory levies, then we will no longer speak of fee-payers about their salaries from Croesus.

It is clear – and the case of Schlesinger illustrates this particularly radically: public service broadcasting has become beyond repair. It’s time to scale back or follow France’s example and do away with the mandatory system of public service broadcasts altogether. According to a survey by Insa, 84 percent of those surveyed support it.

It is also time to allow media consumers to decide for themselves whether and to what extent they want to pay voluntarily for programs offered by public broadcasters, for example via a broadcast subscription. If Tom Bohreau intended to “make the best program for the people who pay us”, it would only work if he made the program for the people who really wanted to pay him and not to those who paid him.

Winfried Wolf Blanc Town

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