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Dispute at RBB: Broadcaster deletes contribution to the Schlesinger affair

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Dispute at RBB: Broadcaster deletes contribution to the Schlesinger affair

At RBB, the process of coming to terms with the Schlesinger era is not yet complete. picture alliance/dpa | Carsten Koall

The Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) subsequently deleted a critical article on the Schlesinger affair in Jörg Wagner’s “Media Magazine”.

The finance director of the public broadcaster is said to have defended himself against the comment that was about him with a lawyer’s letter. This is what research by Business Insider shows.

An RBB spokesman defended the deletion campaign by saying that “clear regulations regarding the acceptance of editorial contributions were not adhered to”.

Jörg Wagner is an institution at RBB. The presenter has been running the “media magazine” on Radio Eins for decades. Wagner won several awards and is considered stubborn and fearless. The media journalist also did not shy away from the Schlesinger affair at RBB. One employee was even allowed to compare the public institution’s workforce to “galley slaves” in his broadcast. But now Wagner is under pressure in his own house.

The RBB subsequently had a critical article deleted from the “media magazine”. A comment by a reporter from the broadcast on February 17th can no longer be found in the ARD audio library for the time being. The journalist spoke about the RBB investigative committee of the Brandenburg state parliament.

The case leads to the broadcaster: RBB finance chief Claus Kerkhoff didn’t look good in the opinion piece. According to research by Business Insider, Kerkhoff is said to have defended himself against this with a lawyer’s letter. The RBB posted a notice online that the article had been removed “because it did not go through the editorial approval process as required.” The RBB is now checking “whether personal rights may have been violated”.

A meeting with Schlesinger, two versions

The stumbling block: Under Schlesinger, the RBB lived beyond its means, and there were signs of an explosion in costs for the prestigious project of a digital media house (DMH). On May 16, 2022, Kerkhoff claims to have been with the then director to vent. The head of the finance department previously claimed to have expressed concerns to no avail. Kerkhoff said he had become less happy in his role from year to year.

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However, the RBB journalist presented a different version on the radio than the station manager. Accordingly, there was a conversation in May 2022. However, Kerkhoff is said not to have spoken about worrying figures, but rather the job of the administrative director. That would make his role as a reminder in the RBB affair appear questionable.

The journalist cited several sources and also spoke of evidence. Nobody can listen to her anymore, her detailed comment about the inconsistencies that the MPs in the committee on the RBB affair are confronted with – it has disappeared.

Spicy: On Friday, the former head of the directorate, Verena Formen-Mohr, testified in the Potsdam state parliament. Formen-Mohr said she had only heard of a conversation with Kerkhoff. The head of finance is said to have applied for the position of administrative director, said Formen-Mohr, citing Schlesinger. “She said to me, if he wants to do that, he has to do coaching first.” That means: In terms of content, the ex-director’s former confidante supported the account from the removed radio report.

RBB defends the deletion action

When asked by Business Insider, a broadcaster spokesman emphasized that RBB had “reported critically on its own behalf” – and that will continue to be the case. “We will also have to adhere to journalistic standards when reporting on our own behalf,” he said, defending the intervention in the program.

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In the current case, “clear regulations regarding the acceptance of editorial contributions were not adhered to,” with the result that a “legally vulnerable article was broadcast,” according to the RBB. It is unclear how media journalist Wagner feels about the deletion. The station did not answer this.

The current deletion operation raises the question of how serious the RBB is about clarifying the Schlesinger affair. She meets a magazine that has been playing a key role in this for more than a year and a half. Many people on the station are shocked by the process; there is already talk of “Schlesinger 2.0”. This is probably also because director Ulrike Demmer, who has been in office for a few months, wants to put everything about the RBB affair behind her as quickly as possible.

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