ARD taps Reiter as chairman

BERLIN – Udo Reiter has been selected as chairman of German pubcaster ARD. Reiter is director of Leipzig-based ARD member station Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, and will become the first ARD chairman representing an eastern German station. Reiter will begin his two-year term as ARD chairman in January, replacing Albert Scharf, director of Munich-based ARD member station Bayerischer Rundfunk.

Reiter, 52, was radio director of BR from 1986 until 1991, when he became director of MDR. BR and MDR are two of 11 regional member stations that make up ARD. As chairman of ARD, Reiter will work toward achieving greater efficiency within the diffuse structure of the web by consolidating data-processing facilities and encouraging the exchange of services and equipment among ARD stations.

With a market share of 14.8%, ARD is second only to private web RTL (17%) among German networks. Over the past 10 years, however, German pubcasters ARD and ZDF have seen their ad revenues and ratings slip dramatically as a result of competition from commercial webs. Mandatory fees paid by all German TV households to finance the pubcasters have been raised, but ARD remains under pressure to cut costs.

Two new webs sponsored by ARD and ZDF, Kinderkanal for children and documentary channel Phoenix, will start early next year. The pubcasters recently announced plans to launch digital free TV channel bouquets in summer 1997.

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