The Queen on all channels. On Monday there was only one program on a number of television stations: the funeral service for and burial of Queen Elizabeth II, a global media event. In addition to private providers such as RTL and Sat.1, the public broadcasters also reported live from London - on four channels. The first, the ZDF, Tagesschau24 and Phoenix broadcast the celebrations for hours in parallel, there were also a number of special programs and the regular news formats.
In the social networks, users expressed their incomprehension about this decision by those responsible - and not just people who are generally critical of public broadcasting.
For example, ZDF presenter Jan Böhmermann wrote smugly: "ARD and ZDF are both broadcasting the Queen's funeral today, so that neither broadcaster can be accused by the Döpfner press of not having loved the Queen enough."
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner also criticized the multiple transmissions. "The fact that ARD, ZDF and Phoenix broadcast live and in parallel from the Queen's funeral from London and each have their own staff in London clearly shows that there is considerable potential for savings," said the FDP politician to the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung". He therefore once again called for the broadcasting fee to be capped as an incentive for public broadcasters to "slim down and concentrate on their core mission".
However, Lindner does not take his criticism too seriously. The Phoenix broadcaster had not sent any of its own employees to London. Because: The transfer "no additional personnel or financial expenses arose", explained a spokesman for the star. The ARD reporting from London was taken over and classified by an expert in the Bonn studio. "The transmission of such events of global interest is part of Phoenix's original programming mandate."
The mandate of the public service broadcasters ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio was laid down by the 16 state parliaments in the State Media Treaty. Paragraph 26 states, among other things:
"The mission (...) is to act as a medium and factor in the process of free individual and public opinion-forming through the production and dissemination of their offers and thereby to fulfill the democratic, social and cultural needs of society. (They) have (. ..) to give a comprehensive overview of international, European, national and regional events in all essential areas of life. Your offers must serve education, information, advice and entertainment. You must offer contributions, in particular on culture. Entertainment should also be public - correspond to the legal offer profile."
"The public service broadcasters work together to fulfill their mandate (...)"
The Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), which took the lead in the celebrations for the ARD, named the number of a total of 29 people who were "alternately and deferred" for the transmission from London and the previous reporting on the ten-day mourning phase , 19 of them from the local ARD studio. The special programs were produced in Hamburg. The NDR pointed out that he was not only responsible for the television coverage of the funeral ceremonies, but also that of the ARD radio station.
On request, both institutions did not disclose the costs incurred by NDR and ZDF by broadcasting the Queen's funeral service. But despite all the criticism, one thing is clear: the regular program of news, series, documentaries or shows would also have needed money and staff. The NDR therefore spoke of "comparatively low personnel costs" given the scope of the reporting on the death and funeral of the Queen.
Actually, the two public broadcasters agreed years ago to broadcast Royal events alternately, especially with a view to the careful handling of the money of the contributors. So why was the Queen on four channels this time?
ARD and ZDF agreed that "the death of Queen Elizabeth II is an event of such outstanding journalistic and historical importance that in this one special case a parallel transmission can and should take place," Bernhard Möllmann from the ARD program directorate replied star. A ZDF spokesman said something similar: "The death of Queen Elizabeth II is an event of public, historical and political importance. For this reason, it is reported wherever ARD and ZDF offer up-to-date information." According to ZDF, the institutions now want to return to alternating reporting.
At least the ratings show that there was a lot of interest in the celebrations. With their live broadcasts, ARD and ZDF alone had a market share of more than 50 percent and an average of more than 5.5 million viewers. The evening specials were also very popular.
The excitement about the parallel transmission comes at an inopportune time for ARD and ZDF, as the broadcasters have come under suspicion, among other things, of wasting the income from the broadcasting fees due to the Patricia Schlesinger case. Every household has to pay 18.36 euros a month to the broadcasting service. ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio thus generate around 8.5 billion euros a year. Among other things, they produce and maintain around 20 television stations and 80 radio programs, numerous podcasts and internet offers, media libraries as well as big bands, choirs and orchestras.
Editor's note: The star is a brand of RTL Germany.
Sources: Norddeutscher Rundfunk, ZDF, Jan Böhmermann on Twitter, "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung"