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Politics Germany: A financial scandal in public audiovisual relaunches the debate on its cost

18:50  17 august  2022
18:50  17 august  2022 Source:   rfi.fr

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Siège de l'ARD à Berlin en septembre 2016 (Image d'illustration). © AFP - John MacDougall Siege of the Ard in Berlin in September 2016 (Illustration Image).

A scandal currently splashes the German public audiovisual, one of the most powerful in the world. This story concerns a leading figure: Patricia Schlesinger directed the first Ard public television channel until her resignation. The reputation of this media giant is scratched, reforms seem urgent.

With our correspondent in Berlin,

Patricia Schlesinger is initially a journalist and benefited from a solid reputation when she took the reins of RBB public television which issues in Berlin and Brandenburg. This station is one of the components of the first public channel Ard, led by the journalist.

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Revelations in the press on consulting contracts for which conflicts of interest are suspected, including for the benefit of her husband, exorbitant expenses for the boss of the RBB owner, a real estate project whose costs are going through. The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine this morning speaks in one of a perfect scenario for a satirical series. Except that there, it is indeed reality.

Patricia Schlesinger resigned initially from her function as president of the Ard and shortly after from the management of the RBB in Berlin. An investigation for suspicions of breach of trust and influence traffic has been opened. Her husband, a former journalist, and the boss of the Board of Directors of the RBB are also concerned.

lack of financial control

Beyond the person of Patricia Schlesinger, it is the reputation of the German public audiovisual that is involved. The lack of financial controls within the public audiovisual is criticized as well as the lack of skills of the management board. Ethics and transparency issues must be reviewed. The salaries of the leaders -300,000 euros for Patricia Schlesinger, much more than the Chancellor - are criticized while the freelance journalists are poorly paid. Beyond that, some wonder about the merger of certain regional antennas, a permanent sea serpent.

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Apart from the extreme right, nobody requires the removal of public audiovisual, but a system is too bureaucratic, too expensive, which would be too left for the right and more watched by young people. A public audiovisual whose amount of the royalty, proposed by a commission, is still ratified by the 16 regions.

The president of the Christian Democratic Party Friedrich Merz wondered this weekend if there were two channels of public TV and ZDF. Others, wonders if very expensive expenses for stars or overpriced sport are still justified even if finances still follow. The powerful Springer press group launched a campaign against the public sector and the royalty.

Finally, it should be remembered that the German public audiovisual is a giant on the international scene. The royalty in Germany is the highest in Europe with € 220 uros per year. The public sector benefits from € 8.4 billion of revenue uros against less than four billion in France or for the British BBC. The German public audiovisual is 21 television channels, general practitioners, themes or regional and 73 radio stations not to mention the presence on the Internet.

► Also listen to: The power of the German media

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