Dhe ARD chairman and director of WDR, Tom Buhrow, has called for an “honest debate” on the future of public broadcasting against the background of the RBB affair. The number of broadcasters, greater cooperation or a limit on broadcasting fees are “essential political issues,” said Buhrow on Wednesday at a hearing in the Berlin House of Representatives. It is also legitimate “to go to the director’s salaries”. However, even saving all directors’ salaries would not lead to a reduction in the broadcasting fee, said Buhrow, referring to calculations by the Saxony-Anhalt State Audit Office.
In early November, Buhrow called for a generational contract for public broadcasting in a speech at Hamburg’s Übersee-Club, which was documented in the FAZ. He spoke out in favor of a round table to draw up a “new social contract” for public service broadcasting.
Debate must be had now
Public service broadcasting is indispensable for a functioning democracy, said Buhrow now in Berlin. That is why the debate must be held now. “Non-profit broadcasting is more at risk if we don’t ask ourselves these questions.” The RBB affair “blew the lid off the pot”. Now everything is being questioned in public broadcasting, with reference to costs. A lot has happened in the ARD in terms of transparency and compliance.
Buhrow spoke out in favor of initially financing a reform of public broadcasting on a cost-neutral basis. Innovations and investments in the ARD should be achieved through reallocations if possible. Nevertheless, there will also be increasing broadcasting contributions in the future. It is mathematically impossible “that the license fee will not increase”.
In Buhrow’s view, public service broadcasting has already embarked on a path of reform. Among other things, he referred to stronger regional reporting, for example in the ARD “Tagesthemen” and the great importance of public broadcasting in reporting on the corona pandemic. ARD and ZDF usually cooperate on major events. Buhrow was convinced that by 2030 there would no longer be any separate media libraries. The number of public special interest channels will also decrease in the coming years.
Tom Buhrow will be ARD chairman until the end of the year. In view of the scandal at Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), WDR took over the ARD chairmanship last summer and also took over the communication of the broadcasting network until the end of the year. At the ARD general meeting in September, it was decided that the ARD chairmanship would change from WDR to SWR in the coming year.