The media politicians of the left in Berlin and Brandenburg, Thomas Domres and Alexander King, have called for increased control of the RBB and its committees. At the same time, they spoke out against plans to split the broadcaster between MDR and NDR. “It’s a crazy idea to smash the RBB,” said media policy spokesman for the Berlin parliamentary group of the left, Alexander King. “Berlin and Brandenburg form an economic and social area and have a linked media landscape.” Therefore, there is still a need for a common broadcaster for the region.
In front of journalists, King and Domres proposed a reform commission that should deal more fundamentally with the structures, professional duties and transparency at RBB. “We need to initiate a broader discussion process involving employees,” King said. A committee made up of members of the broadcasting council, the freelance representation and the staff council should also be involved in the investigation process and steer it.
Domres, member of the Prignitz state parliament, also called for an independent commission to deal with ARD-wide director salaries.
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Domres and King also sharply criticized the station’s board of directors and its boss Wolf-Dieter Wolf. “We haven’t talked enough about his role,” said Domres. “Putting the responsibility solely on Schlesinger is not enough.” Wolf himself must resign, “otherwise the Broadcasting Council will have to recall him.”
The demand by the Brandenburg CDU parliamentary group leader, Jan Redmann, to primarily use media experts in the broadcasting council, does not go far enough from Domres’ point of view. The committee should continue to be a mirror of society. In general, however, the RBB must aim to “take responsibility for more state children,” said Domres. “We clearly expect that the next directorship of the station will be occupied by East Germans.”
The Berlin Greens MP and broadcasting councilor Antje Kapek meanwhile proposed a broad selection committee for the successor. “The candidate must have reform experience and empathy for the House to build trust,” she said. Journalistic experience, management experience and charisma also have to play a role – but in the current situation, knowledge of the company is also important.
For the time being, the RBB is not yet about electing a new director. At a meeting of the Broadcasting Council on Monday evening, the modalities of Patricia Schlesinger’s contract termination were discussed instead. “RBB should check possible repayment and payment claims against Schlesinger,” said Domres.
But the outgoing director doesn’t seem to want to know anything about it: At a staff meeting of the station, which ran parallel to the press conference of the left, it became known that according to the contract, Schlesinger would have to receive money until the end of February. However, she would be willing to leave earlier if RBB refrained from taking legal action against her, which official representatives of the broadcaster rejected in front of the staff.
The exorbitant construction costs incurred for the renovations in the director’s office in the Haus des Rundfunks in Berlin were again discussed at the staff meeting: 650,000 euros were spent on the office, a total of 1.4 million for the floor on which the office is located the director is. And according to information from this newspaper, 750,000 euros were also spent on the floor on which the office of RBB director Christoph Augenstein is located.
With Schlesinger’s departure, however, the costs for RBB are not yet over: According to information at the staff meeting, the compliance investigation by an external law firm will cost up to one million euros. However, according to a ruling by the Federal Labor Court, the broadcaster could get these funds back from Schlesinger in 2021 if the allegations in the investigation are confirmed.