Jauch wants to be taken seriously

'Millionaire' host switches to ARD political talkshow

BERLIN — Teutonic TV personality Guenther Jauch, host of terrestrial web RTL’s hit “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” will join pubcaster ARD next year to fill a high-profile seat left empty by political talkshow host Sabine Christiansen.

Christiansen is ankling ARD to focus on her “Global Players” skein on CNBC.

Jauch will remain active at RTL, where his amiable personality and dry sense of humor have made him a valuable asset and helped keep “Millionaire” a ratings hit, and where he also presents the weekly “Stern TV” news magazine show.

Hosting “Millionaire,” one of the country’s most popular shows, has its perks, but a political talkshow on leading pubcaster ARD, and the opportunity to chat with Germany’s movers and shakers provides a level of prestige unattainable on commercial TV in Germany.

His appointment is not exactly akin to Regis Philbin moving to “60 Minutes” — Jauch is a veteran radio and TV journalist who began his career covering sports and has tackled weighty subjects on RTL’s Stern TV. Nevertheless, it has raised concern at the pubcaster, not only because of his longstanding relationship with RTL, but also because of his TV advertising gigs.

Uwe Kammann, head of nonprofit media org Adolf Grimme Institute, has warned that hiring Jauch while allowing him to continue to do advertising would compromise ARD’s editorial integrity. However, ARD topper Thomas Gruber said Wednesday that Jauch will need ARD approval before doing future advertising in order avoid a conflict of interest.

Jauch will produce the new Sunday night show, which launches next summer and will reportedly cost ARD Euros 9 million ($11.8 million) a year, similar to Christiansen’s skein.

Meanwhile, ARD and fellow pubcaster ZDF will merge their two inhouse educational and training institutes, the Schule fuer Runfunk and the Zentrale Fortbildung Programm into one Media Academy based in Nuremburg.

The schools were set up by ARD and ZDF to train personnel, but the pubcasters plan to open the merged academy to members of the public who want to study TV broadcasting or production. The pubcasters aim to have the academy running early next year, with additional campuses in Hanover and Wiesbaden.

The plan is sure to raise further questions about the use of TV license fees, levied on each household, which many believe should be used solely for the pubcasters’ TV operations.

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