The editor of the Regio-Journal on topics that move him.
The editor of the Regio-Journal on topics that move him.

Comment: When monopoly strengthening is sold as a success

The prime ministers clear the way for the GEZ fee to be increased by 86 cents per month and continue to redistribute the ARD funds in favor of Saarland Broadcasting. This further strengthens the monopoly. A comment.

The Saarland has a special position in the media landscape: in addition to the only daily newspaper, the Saarbrücker Zeitung, there is also the (public) Saarland radio, which is under the control of ARD, as well as a large number of small magazines that are kept on a “short leash” .

How very small magazines, such as the Regio-Journal, suffer from the fact that there are two monopolists in Saarland is shown, for example, in our Odyssey Answering questions, at which neither the State Chancellery nor the Ministry were ready to answer.

But also when it came to keeping your distance, you could find advertising campaigns of the Saarland at SZ, for example, but also when I wasn't completely eating tomatoes while driving, also on the radio, the smaller media, in the case of Regio -Journal, after all, we speak of 180.000 - 250.000 real readers per month plus the print run, were not considered - even when the corona crisis hit completely and the advertising revenues visibly collapsed.

Although glossy photos were fired by a grabbing prime minister while dragging masks over the press mailing list, there was no request to the media whether we would also participate in the dissemination of the Saarland regulations for a fee.

Monopolist strengths that it cracks

Instead, the two monopolists continue to be pushed, with interviews, social media postings, advertising campaigns and exclusive advance information, which we only received hours after publication at SR and SZ ... And now via the State Broadcasting Treaty. As a result, the SR will most likely receive more money from 2021 to further expand his supremacy.

Here radio and politics work hand in hand. It is not without reason that, in my view, the interconnection between politics and public media has been criticized for years.

Instead of the legal mandate, with their offers "to strengthen social cohesion in Germany, European integration and international understanding“(Quote from the Federal Agency for Civic Education), one regularly reads about fire brigade operations, fires in clinics or police operations. Depending on the course of the day, the home page of the SR is similar to that of blue light pages. But that's not all. If you look at the current advertising campaign, not to forget, funded by the fees of the citizens' radio fee, it is about building trust. This is how advertising posters ask: “Where is there a counter-opinion?"

... as if there were no critical voices than the SR in Saarland. But is that really the case? Mostly one reads uncritical reports about Saarland politics. Or get the news in dialect, to match the shallow music and the supposed “main gudd gess” reports. Here you have to even exclude the SR2 cultural radio, there you can at least cultivate the French friendship and enjoy decent reports.

Somehow it can be expected, right?

But this is also to be expected if you consider that the Saarland is sending the head of the state chancellery, Henrik Eitel, to the board of directors of the SR and there also people like Karl Rauber (head of the state chancellery from 1999 to 2011) or the chairman CDU- Politician Joachim Rippel (former finance minister) sitting. Anyone who thinks that's it is wrong:

The Board of Directors also consists of: Sigrid Morsch (CDU, former Mayor of Oberthal), Volker Giersch (formerly General Manager of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Saarland), Bettina Altesleben (SPD), Gisela Rink (CDU in several activities), Michael Burkert (SPD, Vice Chairman) of the board of directors, managing director of Saarland Sporttoto, Saarland Spielbankren, president of the DRK) and Frank Steinmetz, about whom I have nothing to do with party politics.

Even if the task of the board of directors is not to monitor the content, but to monitor the "economic side" of the radio station and we do not want to assume any influence at this point, a certain "closeness to the government and the party" cannot be denied.

For this reason, the Federal Agency for Civic Education comes to the conclusion (generally for public broadcasting): "Even though the imperative of distance from the state, as the upper section shows, plays a central role in broadcasting laws, attempts to influence the medium politically have never subsided. In practice, the offers of public service broadcasting can be influenced at different levels. Political influence, for example, is preferred through personnel policy. Accordingly, the broadcasting councils in particular are often described as a “gateway” for the influence of political and social actors. It is also often criticized that the representatives in the control bodies are grouped according to party political affiliation to “faction-like circles of friends”. These groups of friends not only include politicians, but also representatives of other socially relevant groups who are party politically bound. The parties thus have de facto “influence on radio control that goes beyond the number of their nominal representatives on the supervisory bodies"

It should be noted here that the quotes are general quotes, but the criticized points also fit in part to the “Saar links”.

Increasing the levy means strengthening the monopoly

But back to increasing the money for the SR: This is a further strengthening of the “SR” monopoly in Saarland. It may be questionable whether the increase in the fee is necessary and expedient.

The further generation of advertising revenue by the private sector, the shifting of the actual mandate of public broadcasting to local journalism (in which Regio-Journal is also active, for example) and the almost daily content preference of SR and SZ over other media portals may and must be critical be noted.

In Germany, publicly funded broadcasting is not realizing its potential. BpB shares this view 100 percent. And the reason for this is the "federal form of organization, political interests and narrow limits on the part of the legislature."

Incidentally, this is exactly what the Saarland Prime Minister praised in his statement: "The adjustments ensure the necessary, needs-based financing of the small ARD institutions and strengthen the federal character of the ARD.“Opinions can be so different.

In our view, public broadcasting is an important part of the news world. However, public broadcasting is not about the current maximization of coverage through "headline journalism". And yes: In our view, it is also a question of not further exploiting the blatant competitive disadvantage of solid basic financing through public funds. Whether Saarbrücker Zeitung or Regio-Journal: We finance ourselves from advertising revenue or subscription fees and do not receive any "state subsidies". If public broadcasting now uses this money to gain market share, something is fundamentally wrong and is completely contrary to the legal mandate of a public broadcaster.

If you want to read the detailed assessment of the Federal Center for Political Education on public radio, can gladly do this here.

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