The RBB leadership goes into forward defense. In view of the allegations made against the broadcaster and the director, an independent investigation had been launched. “The RBB management has dealt with the allegations made in media reports against Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg and myself personally. They clothe themselves in a mixture of assumptions, insinuations and false conclusions. We therefore now see the greatest possible transparency as our priority task,” said director Patricia Schlesinger in a press release on Thursday.
After that, on Wednesday, the broadcaster’s audit and compliance officers were also asked to “subject a comprehensive examination as quickly as possible and, if necessary, to consult external expertise.”
According to the broadcaster, compliance officers and auditors have announced that they will involve an external law firm for the investigation.
The investigation is to deal with the awarding of contracts to consultants as part of the planned construction project for the digital media house in Berlin, the settlement of official dinner invitations by the director and contractual relationships with Messe Berlin, insofar as these relate to the RBB.
As the Tagesspiegel reported, Henner Mahlstedt, one of the consultants for the digital media company, was also suspected of having a conflict of interest because he was part of the holding company of the general contractor for the multi-million euro investment.
The allegations made in the media reports are also directed against Wolf-Dieter Wolf, the chairman of the RBB board of directors. As has now become known, the control committee will meet for a special meeting next Tuesday.
Originally, a regular meeting was scheduled to deal, among other things, with the election of the new board of directors, as the term of office of the previous council ends in spring 2023. The agenda of the extraordinary meeting is not known.
There may also be an extraordinary meeting of the RBB Broadcasting Council. Parts of the council expressed “irritated and surprised” that the allegations made against the broadcaster and its leadership were not put on the agenda by the management of the Broadcasting Council at last Thursday’s meeting. The next regular meeting of the Broadcasting Council will not take place until September.
According to Patricia Schlesinger, it will take some time to obtain the necessary clarity about what actually happened, preferably through an independent examination. “The RBB management and I are convinced (…) that this is the right way to permanently refute the allegations.”
As already announced at a staff meeting on Tuesday, the RBB is examining further legal steps “against incorrect and distorting forms of reporting”. In the workforce, a transparent handling of the allegations should secure this. “We seek dialogue to counter mistrust and false suspicions,” says Schlesinger.
This dialogue has its own area on the RBB intranet. Among other things, the current reporting on the allegations made is collected there. This is to counteract the impression that something is being swept under the carpet. In addition, the allegations are to be refuted, the 1500 permanent and around 1000 freelancers should also be able to ask questions here.