A growing cultural rift over the quality of German television has intensified as another critic blasted the country’s pubcasters.
In return, pubcaster ZDF fired book critic Elke Heidenreich and canceled her show.
Heidenreich had backed Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Germany’s most famous literary critic, who earlier this month refused a lifetime achievement prize at ZDF’s German Television Awards, which he ripped to shreds in a speech denouncing the event and the movies and series it was celebrating.
Heidenreich followed up with a damning column in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung last week in which she called German TV “impoverished, stultifying, uncultured and farcical,” and expressed incredulousness that a program such as RTL’s “Idol” format, “Deutschland sucht den Superstar,” could actually win the best entertainment prize at the TV awards.
Poking fun at the awards show itself, Heidenreich sniped: “They want to be Hollywood but they’re just Cologne-Ossendorf,” alluding to the sleepy suburban district near the German city.
ZDF programming director Thomas Bellut sacked Heidenreich on Thursday, saying her comments “personally denigrated ZDF and several of its employees,” adding that “mutual trust” had been destroyed.
Leading publishers asked ZDF execs to reverse the decision in an open letter, arguing that Heidenreich has played a vital role in supporting the country’s literature and book culture.
ZDF director-general Markus Schaechter rejected the pleas, saying, Heidenreich’s dismissal was “irreversible.”