Media: RBB director Schlesinger resigns as ARD chairman

Even after retiring from the ARD presidency, RBB director Patricia Schlesinger is still under pressure.

Media: RBB director Schlesinger resigns as ARD chairman

Even after retiring from the ARD presidency, RBB director Patricia Schlesinger is still under pressure. The chairman of the main committee in the Brandenburg state parliament, Daniel Keller, calls for an immediate clarification of the allegations against the head of the public broadcaster.

"Now it is necessary for the RBB to clarify the facts immediately with absolute transparency," said the SPD parliamentary group leader of the German Press Agency.

He described Schlesinger's withdrawal from the ARD chairmanship as a necessary step to avert further damage to public broadcasting and ARD. If it is already foreseeable that there is misconduct, the director must now also draw consequences from the RBB. The German Association of Journalists (DJV) is also pushing for complete clarification.

Schlesinger withdraws

Schlesinger's resignation from the ARD presidency was announced on Thursday evening. WDR director Tom Buhrow will take over the current business at short notice until the turn of the year. From 2023, Südwestrundfunk director Kai Gniffke could hold the office.

Schlesinger had come under increasing criticism for weeks, and more and more allegations came up. In essence, it is about the question of whether the station boss and the station chief controller Wolf-Dieter Wolf could have treated each other too laxly in the event of a possible collision of interests. Both rejected allegations. An external investigation is currently underway at a law firm. Results are not yet available, they are expected in several weeks.

Schlesinger said of her withdrawal: "We will ensure a smooth transition with all the departments involved in the ARD. The public discussion about decisions and processes in the RBB that fall within my area of ​​responsibility now also affects the interests of the ARD." The 61-year-old added: "The management of the RBB and I now see our main task in helping to clarify these allegations and focusing our attention on the RBB."

Critical moment Schlesinger

The online medium "Business Insider" got the case rolling at the end of June and has reported new details since then. Consulting contracts for an RBB construction project that has now been put on hold and orders for Schlesinger's husband at the state-owned Messe Berlin also play a role. In addition to his RBB function, chief broadcaster Wolf is also the chairman of the supervisory board of the fair.

There is also criticism of a significant increase in Schlesinger's salary to a good 300,000 euros and the procurement and use of her company car, for which the car manufacturer is said to have granted a very high discount. Displeasure is also caused by the fact that Schlesinger, as RBB boss, received guests in her private apartment several times and billed the costs for food and drinks via the ARD broadcaster, which is financed by contributions; the billed costs are said to have been incorrect.

DJV federal chairman Frank Überall stated that it was right that Schlesinger averted damage from ARD. "Her resignation does not change the need to completely clarify the allegations against her." It also depends on whether she can continue to be at the top of the RBB. "Public broadcasting journalists need a leader at their head." According to Überall, she should critically examine whether Schlesinger is up to the challenge.

The 61-year-old has been director of RBB since 2016, which is one of the smaller institutions in the ARD broadcasting network. Her second term began last year and lasts five years until 2026. Schlesinger had recently made it clear in interviews that she wanted to continue in office while the allegations were being investigated. At the same time, she had shown herself open to speaking to the RBB board of directors again about the controversial increase in her salary.

RBB press release

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