Media: RBB warning strike leads to program failures

RBB warning strike leads to program failures

Flags fly in front of the facade of the broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) at the headquarters on Masurenallee in Berlin. photo

© Carsten Koall/dpa

The crisis-ridden RBB is not only dealing with the allegations of nepotism but also in the middle of a wage dispute. Employees increase the pressure with a warning strike and program failures.

Because of an RBB employee warning strike, the one-hour “ARD-Mittagsmagazin” in the joint program Das Erste and ZDF was canceled on Friday. At 1 p.m., TV viewers saw the program of the ARD news channel Tagesschau24 on the first. Normally, ZDF also broadcasts the “ARD-Mittagsmagazin”, and the broadcaster extended its “Turntable” magazine as a replacement program.

At 1:00 p.m., the RBB television of the Berlin-Brandenburg public broadcaster (RBB) also broadcast a ten-minute report about aquatic animals instead of a news program. The reason for the warning strike is ongoing collective bargaining.

The RBB expects that more news programs will be canceled in the TV program on Friday. Already in the morning there were program effects on the radio. According to RBB information from noon, rbb24 Inforadio took over the program from NDR Info on its frequencies from 10 a.m. rbbKultur broadcast a replacement program. rbb24 reported up-to-date online, but to a lesser extent than usual. The ARD broadcaster informed on its website: “There are significant restrictions in our program today. We ask for your understanding.”

Unions had called

rbb24 reported up-to-date online, but to a lesser extent than usual. The ARD broadcaster informed on its website: “There are significant restrictions in our program today. We ask for your understanding.”

Unions had called for the walkout from 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. At noon there was a rally in front of the main location in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Verdi spoke of hundreds of participants. The posters that the employees brought with them alone made it clear that the current RBB crisis surrounding allegations of nepotism at the top, controversial additional pay for management staff and controversial personnel policies are also a factor in the displeasure.

The crisis in the RBB has also meant that it became apparent in the first place how much the ARD broadcaster will be under pressure to save in the next few years.

Collective bargaining had recently also taken place in other ARD houses, and agreements had already been reached.

RBB director Katrin Vernau said: “We regret the program failures, but at the same time understand the demands of the unions for appropriate inflation compensation.” The transmitter’s financial scope is limited. “Above all, we can not only simply distribute money in the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations, but want to use the new start in the company to, for example, permanently compensate for structural unequal treatment between permanent and freelance employees.”

Director wants to get back to the negotiating table quickly

This requires a reliable analysis of the previous situation, which has not yet been available. “We are working on it at full speed, because we want a sustainable collective agreement and want to return to the negotiating table as quickly as possible,” said Vernau, who began as director in the fall and is to lead the station out of the crisis.

The German Association of Journalists (DJV) in Berlin spoke of earlier “mismanagement and self-service mentality at management level”. Employees should not be asked to pay for this.

Verdi, for example, is calling for an increase of a monthly fixed amount of 555 euros for all permanent and freelance employees and all trainees as well as an increase in the fee framework in the current collective bargaining round. The collective agreement is to have a term of twelve months.

Meanwhile, the broadcaster’s broadcasting board met to discuss the legal fees incurred by the broadcaster in dealing with the felt scandal. An external law firm, among others, is currently still working on a final report of an audit that the compliance officer and the Board of Directors had requested. A date for the report has not yet been set. The station’s board of directors said on Friday at the meeting that the law firm had called the end of April in a conversation – but with reservations.

According to the latest information from broadcaster Katrin Vernau, the amount of legal fees for this law firm was just under one million euros last year. In total, since the scandal broke out, legal fees of 1.4 million euros had been incurred by the end of 2022, which were spread across several law firms.

The Broadcasting Council wants to hear a progress report from the chancellery working on the final report at an extraordinary meeting on February 28, as was made clear at Friday’s meeting. The background was also the question of how long the law firm should be commissioned. However, the Broadcasting Council itself is not a client.


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