Zukunftsrat Recommends Extensive Reforms of Germany’s Public Service Broadcasting

The Zukunftsrat, a committee for the future development of public broadcasting in Germany, has recently published its final report. Nadine Klass, Professor of Law at the University of Mannheim, has been among the eight experts who have now presented their recommendations.

“Our work in the Zukunftsrat was primarily shaped by the belief that the role of public service broadcasting as a reliable source of information, where content is explained in a calm manner and the public discourse is supported while the public interest is kept in mind, will become more important and more challenging, due to an increasingly fragmented society and new framework conditions in the media landscape,” says Professor Dr. Nadine Klass, LL.M. (Wellington), holder of the chair of Private Law, Intellectual Property Law, Media Law, and Civil Procedure Law.

For ARD, ZDF, and Deutschlandradio to be still accepted, used, and, ideally, liked by future generations, a joint effort from all those involved is required. Public broadcasters in Germany must become more digital and more efficient, and their program mandate must focus more on democracy and the public interest.

“Continuing like before, and implementing small changes and some cuts, will not be sufficient,” Klass explains. “In our opinion, extensive reforms are needed. The system not only needs to be changed, it needs to be rebuilt.”

The members of the Zukunftsrat recommend shaping the role of public broadcasters to focus more on the public interest and on democracy, to implement more innovation and distinctness, and to engage in dialog with the citizens, to reorganize the institutions, and to introduce modern bodies with clear responsibilities and effective control. In addition, the experts recommend creating an ARD institute (ARD-Anstalt) instead of a working group (Arbeitsgemeinschaft ARD) and suggest that the public service broadcasters of the Länder (Landesrundfunkanstalten) focus on their region. Other suggestions include a new funding process for ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio.

The complete report can be found on the website of the broadcasting commission (in German). The press release of the Zukunftsrats can be found here (in German).