Countries are about to agree on a new order for ARD and ZDF

An June 2, at their conference on June 2nd, the Prime Ministers want to finally get down to business on the reform of the mandate for public service broadcasting and adopt the draft of the State Treaty on Media Changes. At its most recent meeting, the Broadcasting Commission cleared obstacles out of the way.

The ministers responsible for media policy, heads of state and senate chanceries and state secretaries had to deal with seven open questions. This included wording on “sustainability”, possible restrictions on “entertainment” and the consideration that the profile of public service offerings should be particularly noticeable where the use of these offerings is usually particularly high. The Broadcasting Commission also dealt with a possible flexibilization of the linear distribution of 3Sat and Arte, the placement of non-European series and feature films in the media libraries and the quality management of the committees.

Education, information, advice and entertainment

According to information from participants in the consultation, the final formulations were “coming a little closer”. In preparation for the Prime Ministers’ Conference, the main thing is to “fine tune” the open questions. So there are still different opinions on the order for the entertainment. Some of the states are of the opinion that the previous description of the media state treaty should remain, that “their offers should serve education, information, advice and entertainment. (…) Entertainment should also correspond to a public service profile.” While other countries argue that entertainment programs should be more closely oriented towards the public service profile and that there should be a stronger gradation to private providers.

Another point of disagreement is the expansion of media libraries. The draft provides that non-European series and feature films may also be made available on demand. The private broadcasters in particular reject this because of the associated economic damage. But it has been heard that a compromise seems just as possible on this point as on strengthening the committees, which are developing from an advisory to a control body and should have the final decision on the planned flexibilization of the program structure.

It seems that after six years of controversial and sometimes destructive debate, the reform of the mandate of public service broadcasting will be completed this year and a new state media treaty could come into force on January 1, 2023. Then the second phase should start, in which it comes to a reform of the license fee. It is already apparent that there are enough conflicts of interest and differences of opinion on this topic to deal with it for years.