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Public Law – Wild West in Southwest – Media

  • The Broadcasting Council and the Board of SWR have admitted Kai Gniffke and Stefanie Schneider as candidates for the Intendantenwahl.
  • The selection process had previously triggered controversy.
  • Gniffke is currently being accused anonymously of having misused contributions, which the editor-in-chief of ARD-aktuell rejects.

The parking lot in front of the broadcasting station of Südwestrundfunk in Stuttgart East is specially sealed off for all the gentlemen of the Broadcasting Council and the Board of Directors. The area is then also crowded with sumptuous limousines and the drivers who have herchauffiert their district councilors, mayors and other important figures. A lot of effort for a session, which is then completed very quickly. Inside the "Studiosaal", the most important item of the agenda in a non-public meeting is quickly ticked off: It's about the election of the new SWR director, which is after all the second largest ARD institution. The selection process had previously raised a lot of controversy over the question of whether only a handful of promising candidates allowed two to compete for the election date. Or all?

As big as the publicly delivered Zoff was before, so little is the need for discussion on this Friday morning. With 70 votes in favor, four abstentions, a single dissenting vote and an ultra-short discussion, the proposal of the selection committee is dismissed. The candidate field thus remains limited to Kai Gniffke (editor-in-chief of ARD-aktuell) and Stefanie Schneider (State Broadcasting Director Baden-Württemberg). On May 23, they will be able to introduce themselves and their concepts to the 18 board members and 74 broadcasting councils, before they then vote together to decide who will head the institution in the future. All other applicants do not get the chance of a personal presentation.

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Many members of the panel had harshly criticized this preliminary limitation, but all the arguments on Friday dissolved into dry air under the neon lights of the studio room. Reason for the short process: Already in the run-up to the crucial meeting – only on paper – the voting behavior was covered in unofficial rounds; Thursday evening and Friday morning, the so-called friends circles met. The "black" with the conservative committee members. The "violet" for the women. The "red" for the SPD-related men and women and the "gray" for the more independent representatives of the citizenship. In these backroom circles was rauskartelt what later in the studio room with his thick gray carpet is to wave.

On some contributors this may seem like Wildwestrundfunk instead of Südwestrundfunk. And in view of the dwindling acceptance of the public broadcasters as well as soon rising contributions, this approach is questioned by one or the other member of the committee. That did not change anything. Even the rejected candidate Clemens Bratzler (vice-national broadcasting boss) blends the traditional decision-making: "I respect the decision."

So all good again in the wild southwest, where the transmitter two hyphen states (Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate), three "main locations" (Stuttgart, Mainz, Baden-Baden) and must bring a lot of sensitivities under one roof? That may be doubted. Rather, it is to be feared that the supporters of the latecomers will put plenty of stones in the way of the chosen one or more.

A foretaste of the future against each other is an anonymous letter that was sent in mid-March to all ARD directors. In it, candidate Kai Gniffke is accused of having as daily News-Hauptfemdet during conversion of the night program contribution money.

The editor-in-chief of ARD-aktuell has this reproach SZRequest back: "The use of funds is transparent and is continuously reviewed by the ARD." In the allegedly written by employees of the ARD-aktuell editorship Gniffke is also accused, he spread a climate of fear. Gniffke did not want to comment on the attack from the off.

Who makes the race in the election? That's open. However, Gniffke is awarded a small advantage. Because he rides on the ticket of Rhineland-Palatinate, he has the voices from this state largely safe. In addition, he could expect conservative votes from Baden-Württemberg, believes a committee member. On the other hand, the vocal power of women should not be underestimated – the electoral body has more women than men. One thing is certain: the decision is made in the circle of friends.

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