In Germany, politics and TV traditionally have had little to common ground, evening news excepted. That may soon change.German chancellor Helmut Kohl publicly called for a reassessment of the entire broadcast media system in Germany over the New Year’s holiday, calling such a discussion “overdue.” Kohl made a fierce attack on pubcasters, saying that audiences and viewer fee-payers had “nearly zero” influence on the webs. Kohl further accused the executive boards who monitor the workings of ARD and ZDF of “retreating even further” from their duties. Essentially calling the role of pubcasters into question, Kohl said that the question must be posed, “if the current system is the correct one.” The chancellor, who has made no mention of the country’s broadcast media in recent memory, said that the lack of debate over Germany’s broadcast system was “unbearable.” Kohl didn’t give any indication that he was sympathetic to the pubcasters’ ever more urgent pleas for more funding sources, especially a lifting of a government ban on ads after 8 p.m. as a source of additional revenues for the financially strapped pubcasters. “When commentators reccommend thrift for politics, then this naturally must apply to this area,” stated the chancellor dryly, adding that he say “no reason” for an increase in viewers’ fees. Despite the sharp attack on the pubcasters, ZDF communications director Dieter Schwartzenau said the station would welcome an open debate about Germany’s broadcast landscape in the Bundestag (German parliament). Attributing cost explosions to increased competition from privates, Schwartzenau indicated it was time that pols turned an eye to what was happening behind the scenes not only in broadcasting, but the entire German print and broadcast media landscape.
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