German public broadcaster RBB has been rocked by a scandal surrounding its former director, Patricia Schlesinger, who is accused of embezzlement and abuse of the position of head of a media group based in Germany. Berlin, financed by German taxpayers.
Schlesinger resigned on Sunday. On Monday, Berlin’s prosecutor confirmed it had opened an investigation into allegations that Schlesinger embezzled RBB funds to support her lifestyle, including asking the network to pay for lavish dinners at the hotel. her home and finance the use of a private company luxury car. Wolf-Dieter Wolf, the chairman of the board at RBB who was involved in a number of high-profile allegations at Schlesinger, also submitted his resignation on Sunday. Both deny the charges against them.
Schlesinger, who is on an annual salary of $308,000 (307,000 euros) at RBB, is accused of using Germany’s public broadcaster to manipulate a lavish lifestyle for herself and her ex-husband, Spiegel journalist Gerhard Spörl. Among the allegations, many of which were revealed in glaring detail in the German media, were that Schlesinger regularly hosted exclusive dinners at her home for famous guests, Thanks to RBB for the bill, she pushed through $662,000 (650,000 euros) in luxury renovating her office – all while cutting down on work and programming costs at her network.
As head of the Berlin-based RBB, a position she has held since 2016, Schlesinger is a prominent figure in German media. RBB is one of nine regional public broadcasters that make up ARD, the general German pubweb network, with an annual budget of $7 billion (€6.9 billion) and over 22 thousand employees, as a broadcaster. Largest public image in the world. RBB is also one of the main sponsors of the Berlin International Film Festival.
The scandal surrounding Schlesinger comes at a difficult time for public broadcasters in Germany and across Europe. German social networks are set to renegotiate their licensing fees – a per capita tax levied on all German households to fund public broadcasters ARD and ZDF – with the government Germany this fall. The RBB case has led to calls for budget cuts by pubwebs.
Across France’s borders, parliaments recently scrapped their TV licensing fees as part of the French government’s efforts to help those struggling with inflation and the rising cost of living. . The move caused French public broadcasters to lose $3.8 billion (€3.7 billion) in their budgets, a gap the government said it would fill by shifting tax funds. other “euro for euro” for public networks. However, that measure is only guaranteed until the end of 2024, after which the government will have to think of another way to fund its social network.
In the UK, the Conservative government is pushing ahead with plans to privatize Channel 4, a publicly owned, commercial-funded broadcaster. The move was strongly criticized. Channel 4 is considered a pioneer network of groundbreaking shows like Russell T. Davies’ Queer as Folk and the first two seasons of Charlie Brooker’s sci-fi anthology series Black mirror.
The network last year recorded record revenue of $1.45 billion (£1.2 billion) with a surplus of $121 million (£100 million).