Unamused states

German pubcaster ZDF blasted over park plan

BERLIN — Public broadcasters have the right to produce and broadcast television programming, but they don’t have the authority to develop and run amusement parks, Saxony state officials said about the theme park planned by German TV pubcaster ZDF.

ZDF is in the midst of developing the ZDF Medienpark, a DM 200 million ($110 million) theme park based on ZDF TV series and programs, near its main studios in Mainz.

The ZDF Medienpark is to be funded by private investors, but it will be managed by ZDF subsidiary ZDF Enterprises and the Flebbe Group, which owns cinemas and multiplexes around the country. Since the park is not to be used as filming or production facilities, it has attracted criticism from state officials and commercial broadcasters.

While ZDF has steadfastly said the project is being funded by private investors and not with viewer television fees, more and more German states are turning their backs on the proposed ZDF Medienpark, including Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Wurttemberg, where Erwin Teufel, president of Baden-Wurttemberg, blasted ZDF, saying he seriously doubts that the creation of an amusement park can be a top priority of the public broadcaster.

Commercial broadcasters have also come out against the project, saying ZDF may not be funding the bill, but the park would nevertheless be one giant commercial for ZDF.

In addition, German theme park operators have filed a complaint with the European Union in Brussels alleging that the project violates European competition laws. The locals around Mainz have also protested against what they see as a potentially huge increase in traffic.

The state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where ZDF is located, has not come out against the park, although the federal government has expressed concern over some of the criticism.

“We want to strengthen our image,” ZDF managing director Dieter Stolte told German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, adding that his only goal is to strengthen the pubcaster’s programming. He also said he hopes the theme park would attract younger viewers back to ZDF.

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