Enlarge image

MDR logo in Leipzig

Photo: Jan Woitas / dpa

The Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) is apparently planning job cuts and savings in the millions from 2025. According to the dpa news agency, a spokesman for the public broadcaster ARD said that, according to the current state of knowledge, savings of at least 2025 million euros per year are expected from 40 under the foreseeable framework conditions.

The broadcaster also said on the subject of the effects on staff that they are trying to proceed in a socially acceptable manner. This means, for example, that a position is not filled when an employee retires. The spokesman added, however, that this could not be guaranteed due to the high amount of savings. At the end of 2022, MDR had a good 2000 permanent employees. In addition, there were more than 1600 freelancers.

In 2022, MDR collected a good 620 million euros from the broadcasting fee paid by households and companies. The broadcasting area covers Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. MDR is one of the medium-sized broadcasters in the ARD community.

At present, the amount of the broadcasting fee for the contribution period from 2025 onwards is still being calculated by an independent finance commission. The latter then makes a recommendation to the prime ministers, the states have the final say and determine the amount in an international treaty. According to a preliminary draft by the Commission, the contribution is to increase from 18.36 euros per month to 18.94 euros. However, several prime ministers have already made it clear that they will not support an increase.

ARD shifts money from radio to digital

ARD also announced changes on Thursday: From 2024, it will broadcast the same program more often in several radio waves at the same time. In this way, media companies want to save money in order to reallocate it to digital offerings. To this end, ARD also wants to reduce duplicate structures in similar radio broadcast formats. The public association of state broadcasters presented details for more joint evening programming on information waves, culture and classical music stations and more cooperation in the field of radio drama with a focus on the audio library. There will be no redundancies as a result of the plans. It is not yet clear exactly how much money will be raised through the digital redeployment plans.

At info radios, which focus on news and current affairs reporting, the intensified cooperation is to begin at the end of April 2024 with a joint evening program from 20 p.m. Most of the programmes are produced by the North German Broadcasting Corporation (NDR), and on alternating evenings also by Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB). The Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) will also provide an up-to-date joint programme on Saturdays.

In this way, ARD wants to save resources in its programming – but not at the classic prime time in the morning. Despite the consolidation of programming, the ARD broadcasters want to continue to emphasize their regional character. The ARD is also designed by the federal states for regional reporting by state treaty.

The ARD has been announcing for some time that there will be more community programming both on television for the third channels and on radio. Public service broadcasting is required to use broadcasting fees sparingly. At the same time, the entire media industry is undergoing a transformation towards more digital offerings on the Internet with streaming portals, video content on websites or audio libraries. This also means investments. The theatres assume that in the future more and more people will increasingly consume TV and radio with a time delay and in digital form, instead of following programmes in the current programme. Houses will also face rising costs due to streaming on-demand. This incurs dissemination costs.

In the area of television, ARD announced: In the areas where the regional plays a less important role, there will be more cooperation in the future. However, there is no provision for a blanket programme. This idea has been abandoned, said Clemens Bratzler, who is responsible for the Joint Programme Conference, which is responsible for competence centres and third-party programmes, among other things. Rather, there should be a kind of modular system in which the houses can help themselves.