The management crisis at RBB widens after the resignation of director Patricia Schlesinger. According to Tagesspiegel information, the broadcaster’s managing director and long-time head of administration, Hagen Brandstätter, indicated his withdrawal next spring at a meeting of the Broadcasting Council on Monday. Several participants confirmed this.
The modalities of Patricia Schlesinger’s contract termination are also still being debated. In addition, according to information from “Spiegel”, another manager of the station was released with immediate effect. It is Verena Formen-Mohr, head of the main department of management of the RBB and close confidant of Schlesinger. The broadcaster confirmed the exemption.
Brandstäter had previously written to the RBB workforce on Monday afternoon. In it, he apologizes that the management “could not prevent this situation or at least avert it quickly,” writes Brandttäter. In an RBB special on Schlesinger’s resignation on Monday evening, he emphasized: “We didn’t know anything about the company car and dinner.”
Both in the Broadcasting Council and RBB internally, this representation was doubted on Tuesday – at least for the company car. When asked about personal consequences, Schlesinger’s confidant and program director of RBB, Jan Schulte-Kellinghaus, said it was not the time for it. However, he did not rule out resigning in the future.
The Broadcasting Council wants to meet again next Tuesday to discuss “final questions about the termination of Patricia Schlesinger’s contract and the further role of RBB’s head of the board of directors, Wolf-Dieter Wolf”, as the committee announced. The members of the broadcasting council were outraged that Wolf wanted to continue to be involved in the work of the board of directors, although he is currently retiring from his position as chairman due to suspicions of infidelity and acceptance of benefits. The public prosecutor’s office is now investigating him, Schlesinger and her husband, the ex-Spiegel journalist Gerhard Spörl.
On Tuesday, Wolf resigned from his post as Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Messe Berlin GmbH. A spokesman for the Berlin economic administration told the “Berliner Morgenpost” that damage should be done to the trade fair company.
The previous director Schlesinger does not seem to want to vacate her royally paid post without further ado: she has resigned, but her contract is still running for the time being. Schlesinger is officially “on vacation”, as an RBB spokeswoman announced. At a staff meeting on Tuesday, the employees were then informed that according to the contract, Schlesinger would have to receive money by the end of February. However, she would be willing to leave earlier if the RBB refrained from taking legal action against her. However, official representatives of the station rejected this 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 director -Office is located. And according to information from this newspaper, 750,000 euros were also spent on the floor where RBB director Christoph Augenstein sits. Augenstein, like Schlesinger, Wolf, Brandtstätter and Schulte-Kellinghaus, is under heavy internal criticism.
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Meanwhile, media politicians and members of the Broadcasting Council are demanding far-reaching consequences from the RBB leadership affair. “All bodies – the management, the board of directors and the broadcasting council – are obliged to carry out a comprehensive error analysis,” said the Green MP and broadcasting councilor Antje Kapek the daily mirror. “The consequences must be reflected in the new Interstate Broadcasting Treaty: We need stricter compliance rules, there must be no more accumulation of offices.”
Kapek called for a “broad-based selection committee” for Schlesinger’s successor. “We don’t need any name dropping to succeed Patricia Schlesinger,” Kapek told the Tagesspiegel. As a criterion for the successor, the Greens MP also called “knowledge of the house”. The candidate must “have reform experience and have empathy for the house in order to be able to rebuild trust,” said Kapek.
The CDU media politician Christian Goiny, also a member of the Broadcasting Council, made a similar statement. “We have to think about a full-time board of directors and ask the question what did they know about all this and what did they decide for themselves,” Goiny told the Tagesspiegel. He also indicated that the failure goes beyond Schlesinger. Goiny suggested that the control rights of the Court of Auditors could also be tightened in the future. The CDU politician also considers a selection committee for the Schlesinger successor to be useful, but said: “My fear is whether there will be anyone suitable to sit in the wasp’s nest.”
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. King and Domres propose a reform commission to deal with the structures, professional duties and transparency at the RBB. “We need to initiate a broader discussion process involving employees,” King said. Domres also called for a commission to deal with ARD-wide director salaries.
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 on Schlesinger alone is not enough.” With regard to Schlesinger’s successor, Domres said that there must be a goal in the RBB to “take more responsibility for the children of the country”. It is expected that “the next directorship of the station will be occupied by East German.”
Meanwhile, the costs of the Schlesinger affair continue to explode: According to the staff meeting, the compliance investigation by an external law firm will cost up to one million euros. The broadcaster could probably get these funds back from Schlesinger if the allegations against them are confirmed.