ARCHIV - 12.02.2020, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Köln: Tom Buhrow, ARD-Vorsitzender, äußert sich nach der Sitzung der ARD-Intendanten auf einer Pressekonferenz. (Zu dpa "ARD-Intendanten werben für mehr Freiheit bei Programm-Ausspielwegen") Foto: Oliver Berg/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

One of the questions that should not only concern Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg these days and weeks, is this: If a new director is then elected for the two-country broadcaster, what will he or she do? earn annually?

The Schlesinger/RBB leadership affair with all its cronyism, memorials and bonus payments has put new pressure on the question: How much do the leaders of the state broadcasters actually earn? And: Is that reasonable at all, compared to what a prime minister gets?

In any case, transparency and control are required in order to regain the trust of broadcaster employees and license fee payers after the Schlesinger case. No self-service shop for public broadcasting (ÖRR). Example WDR. The Tagesspiegel question about Cologne was: As a result of the Schlesinger/RBB cause, upper salary limits or even a salary increase waiver for directors of the ÖRR is being discussed. Is that also a topic in the WDR?

The responsible supervisory body decides on the salary of the WDR director, at WDR this is the administrative board, according to the answer from the press office. “Tom Buhrow agreed his salary with the board of directors when he was first elected director nine years ago. When he was elected for the second time in 2018, he refrained from renegotiating his salary.”

The only strange thing is that Buhrow had an annual salary of 395,000 euros in 2019 (according to the table on at the time) and 413,000 euros in 2021. When asked how these scissors are compatible with the above answer (“salary waiver”), WDR replies: The salaries of all WDR employees have changed “in the period you mentioned”. “There have been no separate salary increases for Mr. Buhrow since he became director.”

However, there is no talk of salary caps. And 413,000 euros is a lot of money, not to mention the company car. For comparison: Hendrik Wüst, Prime Minister in North Rhine-West, receives a basic salary of 17,658 euros per month (salary table of the federal states), that makes 212,000 euros in a year, excluding family allowance and service expense allowance.

Norbert Himmler, who has only been director of ZDF for a good six months, feels better about it. “We publish the salaries of the management in our transparency portal as part of the digital publication ZDF yearbook,” says the Mainz broadcaster on the transparency issue.

ZDF director Norbert Himmler has been receiving a monthly fee of 30,990 euros since April 1st, which brings him to an annual fee of 371,880 euros. The amount of the director’s remuneration is the subject of his contract, which the ZDF board of directors has decided.

Example NDR. The four-country broadcaster has come under fire in the past few days for allegations of political influence and nepotism. What is the managerial salary like there? The boards of directors of public service broadcasters repeatedly deal with the salaries of non-tariff executives (AT), especially when new contracts are pending, according to the NDR.

A spokesman points out that the current director, Joachim Knuth, receives a salary that is 19,000 euros lower (346,000 euros) than his predecessor Lutz Marmor (365,000 euros). “And since 2020, all AT managers have voluntarily waived an annual salary increase.”

A blip to the downside? South facing. At its special meeting last Monday, the SWR Board of Directors dealt in detail with the director’s salary, says SWR Board Chairman Hans-Albert Stehl.

At SWR, the regulation is clear: “The director receives an annual salary of 361,000 euros, plus a general expense allowance of 350 euros per month and a special payment of 978 euros per year, which every employee of the SWR receives.” There are no bonuses or other similar additional ones Payments, as has been the case with the RBB so far.

“This salary was considered appropriate, also in comparison to the salaries of public institutions, such as managers of municipal utilities or savings bank board members.” The question of a salary cap or a salary increase waiver was not discussed recently.

Compared to this, the basic salary of the MDR director Karola Wille is significantly less demanding. An MDR spokesman said it had remained unchanged since 2014 because she voluntarily refrained from tariff increases. An adjustment was made for the first time in 2021 “as a result of regular discussions with the Board of Directors”. With 295,000 euros a year, Wille is now in the lower third of the ARD salary ranking.

Just a few examples that indicate how many differences and inertia there are in terms of salary among public service broadcasters. And what’s next at RBB, should an interim director be found at the next meeting of the Broadcasting Council on Wednesday? Does he or she go home with less than 303,000 euros a year, which Patricia Schlesinger had, at least regularly, accounted for? From the RBB, specifically, from Dorette König, Chairwoman of the RBB Board of Directors, there was no answer on Monday to the Tagesspiegel request.