fIf you follow the Berlin circles, who are usually well informed in this case, the crisis broadcaster gets a director after Patricia Schlesinger, who was fired without notice. The selection committee has picked Katrin Vernau as a candidate and will propose her to the Broadcasting Council for election.
Katrin Vernau, 49 years old, has been administrative director of Westdeutscher Rundfunk since 2015. Previously, she was a partner at the management consultancy Roland Berger and chancellor at the universities of Ulm and Hamburg. The then SPD top candidate in the state elections in Baden-Württemberg, Nils Schmid, included her in his shadow cabinet in 2011 as an aspirant for the research ministry.
It comes from WDR of all places
With Vernau as interim director for a year, the Broadcasting Council rejected the recommendation to entrust someone from the outside with the clean-up work at RBB. The fact that she knows ARD well is of course an advantage for Katrin Vernau. It’s a bit piquant that she’s moving from WDR to RBB. The WDR director and acting ARD chairman Tom Buhrow was the one who announced on behalf of the other directors that there was no longer any trust in the management of the RBB. That was an indirect request to resign at the top of the station, which, as we now know, benefited one and all from the controversial bonus system refined under Schlesinger. A total of 40 employees with salaries beyond the collective bargaining agreement can be found at RBB, which made radical savings on freelancers, even more than other ARD broadcasters, while the cornucopia was poured out on the upper floors.
What speaks for Katrin Vernau above all is that she has made a name for herself on ARD as the antipode of Patricia Schlesinger. According to well-informed circles, Schlesinger’s financial aspirations were not limited to the RBB. In her capacity as ARD chairman, Schlesinger allegedly wanted to get hold of positions intended for joint tasks and the money of other ARD broadcasters. The heads of finance and administration were massively alienated. Especially with Katrin Vernau Schlesinger bit on granite. If Vernau were now elected interim director of the RBB, it would have a very special – professional and ARD-internal – charm.
Why not multiple candidates?
The election will take place on Wednesday from 4 p.m. in camera. The chairman of the German Association of Journalists Berlin – JVBB, Steffen Grimberg, does not like that. “Due to the special situation at the RBB” one supports “the path taken by politicians, committees and employee representatives to propose suitable personalities via a search committee”. But the search committee is “only a means to an end. The most important body is and remains the Broadcasting Council, which elects the artistic director or the temporary director”. “Increased criticism of the procedure” can be heard from the Broadcasting Council, especially with regard to the handling of the proposals for candidates made by the Broadcasting Council. “If only one person is to be nominated by the selection committee, we have to ask ourselves what kind of ‘choice’ that is,” says Grimberg. The representation of the editors and the freelancers in the RBB is also critical. What is needed is a real election with several candidates. Head of Broadcasting Council Dieter Pienkny said that the procedure would be adhered to. On Tuesday evening there should be a video link with the broadcasting councils to intensify the opinion-forming process. The selection committee includes Pienkny, the chairwoman of the board of directors, Dorette König, the chairwoman of the staff council, Sabine Jauer, and the chairwoman of the voluntary representation, Dagmar Bednarek. To a certain extent, the latter criticized herself. She took issue with the procedure, but did not oppose the candidate, according to Bednarek.