Karola Wille
Sebastian Willnow/dapd



Former Chairman

An attorney and former lecturer of media law at Leipzig University, Wille joined MDR in 1991 as a senior advisor to the broadcaster’s legal directorate. Appointed head of the directorate in 1996, Wille also chaired ARD and public broadcaster ZDF’s legal affairs committee between 1997 and 1998. After being re-elected twice as MDR’s legal director, Wille was elected as the broadcaster’s director-general in 2011 for a six-year term. She took over the ARD chair in January 2016.

Wille is overseeing what could become, in her words, the “biggest reform program” ever undertaken by ARD, which, together with ZDF, costs German consumers more than $8 billion a year. Wille said public broadcasting association has to see how it “can continue to grow.” According to German press reports, the plan may include the merger of the country’s nine regional broadcasters into four large corporations: east, west, north and south. ARD has so far denied that move, however.

The ARD chair rotates among the country’s nine regional broadcasting corporations for one year, although Wille was reappointed for a second year in 2017.


  • Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR)
  • ARD


  • University of Leipzig (Germany)
  • University of Hagen (Germany)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
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