Millions of football fans trembled with the Danes about their player Christian Eriksen, saw the dramatic scenes from Copenhagen live on ZDF on Saturday.
"That was an absolutely exceptional situation for us too," said broadcasting director Thomas Fuhrmann of the German press agency on Sunday: "It pushed us to the limit, but our colleagues always found the right tone." However, there was also criticism , for example from the German Association of Journalists (DJV), which sharply attacked the public TV broadcaster and accused it of voyeurism.
After the Danish player collapsed in the European Championship preliminary round against Finland, ZDF initially continued to show the images that were supplied by UEFA via a TV service provider. "We also had to meet the audience's need for information," said Fuhrmann. After a few minutes, the ZDF switched to the studio and interrupted the EM program after a quarter of an hour.
The sports director rejected the criticism that he had not reported adequately.
"ZDF handled the tragic incident at the Denmark-Finland game responsibly," said Fuhrmann.
“Béla Réthy reported sensitively from the stadium, and the colleagues in the studio found the right words.
Nor can I criticize UEFA’s international direction.
When the extent of the serious injury became apparent, there were no close-ups or other unsuitable images. "
"I find it unbearable"
Before that, Frank Überall had sharply criticized as DJV federal chairman. “I find it unbearable that the live broadcast on television showed the resuscitation of the footballer for a long time. That is irresponsible and contradicts journalistic ethics, ”said Überall. He added: “Journalism can't be that voyeuristic. The ZDF is obliged to come to terms with this blatantly wrong decision. "
Media scientist Christoph Bertling contradicted this. “I don't think you can speak of voyeurism”, commented the lecturer at the German Sport University in Cologne. “It's a state of shock, also for the editorial team, they have to get out of their routine. You have to switch from entertainment mode to crisis communication. "Bertling agreed with the ZDF sports director:" Basically, the broadcaster also has a duty to document the situation. You want to know what is happening. "The media scientist only criticized a later summary:" A camera position was too close, that was technically insensitive. "
Jana Wiske, media and communication scientist from Ansbach University, commented similarly.
“Nobody can prepare for such a shock situation.
It is all the more remarkable how empathically and, above all, cautiously the ZDF reported directly after the events, "said Wiske of the dpa.
“Intuitive or deliberate: Béla Réthy's silence is a great achievement.
Nothing else could have shown the concern. "
The director of the international TV signal also resisted the criticism of the recordings.
“We showed the sadness and despair of the people, the players, the staff and the spectators,” said Frenchman Jean-Jacques Amsellem of “L'Equipe”: “At this moment of great concern, we also felt a unity.
That had to be communicated.
I don't call that voyeurism. "
ZDF reporter Béla Réthy also found the situation to be a shock.
"That was emotionally the toughest transmission so far for me," said the 64-year-old TV journalist on Sunday.
In the beginning he was less of a reporter and more “a person who empathizes”.
“That was the most negative feeling I have ever had at work,” said Réthy.
The journalist, who has been working at major tournaments for decades, was behind the microphone again after the game was interrupted and the broadcast was restarted.
“That was a big challenge when it was supposed to continue,” reported the ZDF man.
“You have to be careful with every word.
You can't prepare for situations like this. ”For Rethy, it was“ very complicated to have to talk about a soccer game ”.
Some viewers found it inappropriate that the ZDF had shown advertisements with the Mainzelmännchen despite the incident and, of all things, the "Bergdoktor" as a bridge. There were many critical comments on this in social networks. Such replacement programs are selected beforehand in the event of interruptions, regardless of the cause. As a rule, what is shown is what normally runs at that broadcasting slot, said ZDF. It was also said: "After the game was abandoned, ZDF temporarily returned to the regular program, which also includes advertising."
ZDF showed the continuation of the game in Copenhagen in the main program and the partly parallel encounter between Belgium and Russia, initially on ZDFinfo and as a live stream on the Internet.
In the Telecom service Magenta TV, which in the meantime had also interrupted current reporting, both games could be seen on different channels.
There was also criticism of the BBC broadcast in Great Britain, to which the broadcaster responded: “We apologize to everyone who was upset that the pictures were broadcast.
The broadcast in the stadium is controlled by UEFA as the host.
As soon as the game was interrupted, we switched off our reporting as soon as possible. "