Schlesinger affair at RBB: ostracism –

On Wednesday, the media committee of the Berlin House of Representatives met on the RBB affair. There is still a lot to do for the interim directorship.

Two people are talking to each other.

Acting chairwoman of the RBB board of directors König with acting director Schulte-Kellinghaus Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa

If a vase breaks, you are faced with a heap of shards and of course you can start laboriously gluing the vase back together. But even if you can do that, it won’t end up looking that great – and you’re less likely to put it up again. On Wednesday morning, the media committee of the Berlin House of Representatives stood in front of the shambles of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) and discussed how the media institution could be glued back together.

Under the agenda item “Status of the Enlightenment of the events in the RBB and possible consequences for the amendment of the State Media Treaty”, committee members from the parliamentary groups discussed ways out of the crisis with invited guests, and interviewed Jan Schulte-Kellinghaus, who represents the ill managing director Hagen Brandstätter, as well as Dorette König, acting chairwoman of the RBB administrative board.

At first there was no lack of verbal drive. Some even seemed to see an opportunity in the current RBB crisis: “We want to speak future-oriented,” said Gollaleh Ahmadi from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group, so that the RBB could emerge stronger from the crisis. Severin Fischer, head of Franziska Giffey’s Senate Chancellery, emphasized that public broadcasting was “an important pillar of the public community” for the Senate – everything would be done to “support this institution and bring it back on track”.

König, who currently chairs the most important control body, assured that she did not know that ex-director Schlesinger and ex-head of the board of directors Wolf-Dieter Wolf were private. She complained that her committee worked on a voluntary basis and that it was reaching its limits in this organizational form. An admission that raises central questions that will certainly be hotly contested in the coming months: How should such an important supervisory body be staffed and work? What financial resources and competencies does it need to be equipped with?

“What we lack is eye level”

Schulte-Kellinghaus asserted that it was not just about restoring trust in the outside world. “The trust of the workforce in the management of the RBB is massively disturbed.” That is why it is now necessary to clarify – among other things, the bonuses that have now been abolished by the board of directors and also with regard to the construction of the digital media company that has been put on hold. The construction project has been the focus of attention in recent months, mainly because of dubious consultancy contracts and rising cost estimates.

A law firm commissioned by the Board of Directors and the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office are currently working to clarify the affair. According to Schulte-Kellinghaus, a format is also planned for an internal clarification process in which the employees would be involved.

Christoph Reinhardt, RBB free agency

“What we lack is eye level. That’s your job”

Christoph Reinhardt from the RBB voluntary representation made it clear that the trust of the employees cannot be restored with warm confessions alone. He called for more co-determination by the workforce, for example through equal representation on the board of directors, and addressed the MPs directly: “What we lack is eye level. That’s your job, go into the state treaty and set the framework in such a way that the workforce can participate.”

Reinhardt was also upset about the transitional intensity that is emerging, and is to be elected by the RBB Broadcasting Council in Potsdam in the afternoon. In media reports, the administrative director of West German Broadcasting (WDR), Katrin Vernau, is traded as the interim boss. According to Reinhardt, the fact that the responsible selection committee put a single person up for election without an alternative as an interim solution is not a good sign for a new start.

Just on this eventful Wednesday for RBB time online published an interview with ex-artistic director Schlesinger: “I underestimated the great displeasure, the anger of the people at RBB”, she is quoted in it. A request to speak, which should not only be very helpful in terms of its content, but also its timing when sticking the transmitter together.

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