The one-off decision to dismiss RBB director Patricia Schlesinger may come late, but it is a liberating blow. The members of the control body have thus fulfilled what is probably their most unpleasant duty and have shown that more rights for the broadcasting councils, as they are now being demanded, may be helpful, but councils that make use of the existing possibilities are even more important.
The RBB Broadcasting Council, often ridiculed as a nod to the long-winded statements by the directorship and board of directors, has accepted its responsibility. It took a while for the council to accept the seriousness of the situation after the initial allegations against the broadcaster, but then pushed the issue forward with two special sessions in quick succession.
Even the admonishing voices that warned of the consequences of hasty steps, also here in the Tagesspiegel, could not dissuade the council.
Because there is actually a financial risk for the RBB. Dismissal without severance pay is only possible under clearly regulated labor law conditions. And Patricia Schlesinger made it clear in her statement to the council members that she is sticking to her point of view. She continues to say that she acted “to the best of her knowledge and belief” and in the interests of the broadcaster.
In the end, a court may have to decide who is right. But it is also possible that the 150,000 euros that are said to be at stake are a small price to pay for the fact that the Council has shown strength in terms of the broadcaster and the system.
One cannot overestimate the importance of this vote for the preservation of the non-state public service system of television, radio and internet. There are many things that need to be reformed, including the councils.
Without attacking the grandfathering so often emphasized by the Federal Constitutional Court, ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandfunk will not be spared discussions about the structure and mandate, about the level of fees and restrictions on services, about company cars, digital media houses and bonus systems.
In addition, however, the RBB proved this Monday that public broadcasting does not have to be an uncontrollable juggernaut, as its opponents claim.