Saarbrücken (dpa) - The most powerful post at Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR) is newly awarded.
On Monday (February 22nd) three candidates will be elected as artistic director.
With SR editor-in-chief Armgard Müller-Adams, a woman could take over the position for the first time in the history of the ARD institute in Saarbrücken.
Your SR colleague Martin Grasmück is deputy program director and is also running.
The two Saarlanders have prominent competition from outside: ARD editor-in-chief Rainald Becker.
On Monday, the 39-strong Broadcasting Council will vote on who will lead the ARD station in the next few years and thus through uncertain times.
If the required two-thirds majority for a candidate does not come together, there will be another election on Tuesday.
The post becomes vacant because the director Thomas Kleist (65), who has been in office since 2011, will be leaving at the end of April.
Actually, his term of office would have lasted two years.
He justified his step as follows: The time is ripe for a change of management to the younger generation.
His successor will have to work on several large construction sites at the same time at SR, which has around 620 employees in 544 positions and almost 200 freelance employees (permanent freelancers).
The main problem: money.
There is the unresolved situation regarding the originally planned increase in the radio license fee.
Likewise, the fact that the financial equalization has not yet been raised among the ARD broadcasters in favor of SR and Radio Bremen, the smallest of the nine ARD broadcasters, is causing problems for Saarbrücken.
The board of directors used drastic words in December: The station would be “existentially threatened” if the two adjustments were not made.
The state treaty of the federal states, which did not come into force at the beginning of the year, which would have regulated all of this, is now a case for the Federal Constitutional Court.
ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio have to wait that long and somehow bridge the gap.
The best-known candidate for the top SR position in Germany is ARD editor-in-chief Rainald Becker.
The 61-year-old is known to many television viewers through his interviews with politicians.
He recently spoke to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) about the corona pandemic on an ARD special.
Becker has been the ARD editor-in-chief since 2016.
In autumn it became known that the deputy head of the ARD capital studio, Oliver Köhr, will be Becker's successor on May 1st.
At that time it was said that he would take over the coordination of the federal election in 2021.
The native of North Rhine-Westphalia was at times editor-in-chief of the ARD capital studio and was present in formats such as “Report from Berlin”, “Brennpunkt” and Berliner Runde.
His career began in October 1986 as an editor and reporter in the television interior policy department at Süddeutscher Rundfunk (SDR - today SWR).
A home advantage - if you will - have his two competitors, whose professional paths in SR were similar.
Both were born in Saarland.
Martin Grasmück (50) describes himself as the “house plant” of the SR.
It all started in 1992 while still a student - he has been working in management positions for more than 13 years.
The current deputy program director stands for innovation, for example in the pop wave area or with offers on the Internet for younger people.
Grasmück knows not only the journalistic side but also the administrative and managerial level.
From around 2008 to 2015 he was head of the Intendanz department, first under Artistic Director Fritz Raff and then under Kleist.
Armgard Müller-Adams (47) was also born in Saarland and knows the station like weirdo through numerous stations.
Her career began in 2000 as a volunteer, and since October 2019 she has been the SR's cross-media editor-in-chief.
At times she also headed the station's directorship department and was Kleist's advisor.
During this period, she headed a project that included the first broadcaster-wide employee survey.
As a result, a feedback portal was created on the intranet.
An entry aid for new colleagues has also been developed and internships within other broadcasting areas have been made possible for employees.
For many years, Müller-Adams also worked as a reporter, presenter and spokesperson for the station.
If you ask around before making a choice, one word comes up again and again: independence.
Saarland and independence - the debate about it has been part of the small federal state for decades, including in politics.
Former Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Kurt Beck (SPD) burned his fingers again and again when he brought a merger of the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland into play.
The director of Südwestrundfunk (SWR), Kai Gniffke, also seemed to have stumbled into a wasp's nest when he recently and certainly also with a view to the election of directors suggested closer cooperation between SR and SWR - for example with joint directorates.
However, he was cautious about a complete merger of the two institutions.
In Saarbrücken one was on the pinnacle.
The board of directors stood behind Kleist's counterattack to Gniffke's advance.
The council emphasized that it supported the SR director “fully in maintaining the independence of the Saarland broadcasting company, and also rejects the proposals for cross-channel structures that would undermine the autonomy of the Saarland broadcasting corporation”.
The word independence was also used by the Chairman of the Broadcasting Council, Gisela Rink, when the three candidates were announced days ago: “We are pleased that we can propose several qualified people to the Broadcasting Council with our nomination, whom we consider particularly suitable To lead SR into the future and to maintain its independence. "
A government spokesman for Saarland, which is governed by the CDU and SPD, said in response to a dpa request: «The SR has - despite considerable cost-cutting measures in recent years - managed to create and maintain an independent, distinctive brand core within ARD, which in turn is a major strength represents the ARD with its federal structure.
Therefore, maintaining the independence of the SR as an independent state broadcaster is of great importance. "
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210218-99-488926 / 2
Press release on election proposals
ARD information on the Becker / Köhr change in autumn 2020
SR information on Müller-Adams (2019)
ARD information on Grasmück (2015)
SR information on the extension of the Grasmück contracts (2019)