The ousted RBB boss Patricia Schlesinger has reignited the discussion about public broadcasters in Germany. Reason enough to look at the chains of obfuscation at another ARD station.
Patricia Schlesinger caused ARD and ZDF to be problematic throughout Germany. Compulsory fees, waste and waterhead organization are regulars’ topics. And who are the controllers?
Knowledgeable readers know that I am. I’m a member of the Bavarian Broadcasting Council, one of fifty. The FDP faction suggested me. The plenary session of the Bavarian state parliament elected me unanimously. In the Broadcasting Council, I belong neither to the black group nor to the left-wing group that coordinate before important meetings. As an independent lone fighter, I strive for information and control. That’s hard enough. Those in power at the station are friendly, but don’t like to let the broadcasting council look at their numbers.
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Using the example of the Scolik case, I want to explain how the chain of obfuscation works. dr Reinhard Scolik (annual salary around 250,000 euros) was program director of the BR and has now been brought back into the public eye as a result of the Schlesinger affair. We discussed him twice in the Broadcasting Council. The first time because of his early contract extension in July 2020 and the second time because of his early departure in December 2021. Both decisions were highly problematic.
Several broadcasting councilors found it tricky that the outgoing director Wilhelm wanted to appoint a program director to his successor Wildermuth. However, we broadcasting councilors were only allowed to vote yes or no and had no chance of leaving the selection for the important post to the artistic director. What I feared happened quickly. The new boss and the program director did not fit together. She wanted to get rid of him. Just eight months after taking office, she negotiated with him about the termination of his contract. Many broadcasting councilors wanted to know more. What were the reasons for the quarrel? How much was the severance pay?
The questions could only be asked – the first link in the chain of obfuscation – in non-public meetings. The answer: It was agreed not to disclose the agreement. Next topic: There were rumors on the station that the Austrian Scolik preferred a Viennese company with Bavarian orders, whose branches reach out to Vaduz in Liechtenstein and trust companies in the Bahamas.
Answer: For reasons of competition law, the broadcaster cannot inform us. The fact that the comedian Angela Ascher, who is familiar with Scolik, was often seen in Bavarian Radio broadcasts could of course not be concealed by any paragraph. Otherwise, the regulation among the committees is nonsensical. The Broadcasting Council may appoint senior employees of the broadcasters to office, but is excluded from drafting the contracts. In order to achieve the desired transparency, the state parliaments have to improve laws. The new media state treaty already provides that the competence of the supervisory authority will be extended.
It doesn’t have to go as far as in Berlin, where prosecutors have now searched the chief offices of the RBB broadcaster. Apparently, the judiciary had to take this last step because the management of the house did not voluntarily hand over the desired documents. This attitude fits the mentality of Patricia Schlesinger, who describes herself as a political victim.
FOCUS founding editor-in-chief Helmut Markwort has been an FDP member of the Bavarian state parliament since 2018.
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