BERLIN. In the first quarter of 2023, ARD and ZDF systematically excluded the AfD from their talk shows. While the other parties represented in the Bundestag were able to book a total of 137 appearances with Markus Lanz, Sandra Maischberger and Co. from January to March, the AfD was not invited once.
“This targeted and continued boycott of the second strongest opposition party in Germany by the public broadcasters, which are committed to political neutrality and balance, is outrageous,” AfD leader Alice Weidel said in an interview with JUNGE FREIHEIT. To exclude a party that is firmly anchored in all German parliaments and in polls at almost 16 percent is a “manipulative intervention in the political opinion-forming of the viewers”.
According to the AfD frontwoman, a blatant example is the ARD program “Hart aber fair”. Since Louis Klamroth, who was in a relationship with the “Fridays For Future” icon Luisa Neubauer, has taken over the moderation of the talk show, not a single AfD politician has been invited, but every second episode a representative of the left – “a party that is not even involved has half as many MPs in the Bundestag as the Alternative for Germany and is battling the five percent hurdle in the polls,” emphasized Weidel.
Weidel wants to release ÖRR from the “cling grip of the parties”.
This unequal treatment of the AfD is both an attack on “equal opportunities in party political competition” and on the “democratic culture” in the country, stressed Weidel. Apparently, however, those responsible for public service broadcasting lack awareness of the problem.
Weidel reiterated her demand for a reform of ARD and ZDF. “The public broadcasting system must finally be reduced to its core task, the basic supply of information and news, and freed from the grip of the parties.” A fundamental reform also includes replacing the compulsory fee with a payment system on a voluntary basis, Weidel warned .
Maybritt Illner finds debates with AfD “unproductive”
But how do the public broadcasters justify their boycott policy? In the past, the broadcasters justified their AfD boycott by saying that they were not “substitute parliaments”. The invitations are “subject-related” and according to “purely journalistic criteria”. “Members of different parties are neither preferred nor disadvantaged per se,” ARD told JUNGEN FREIHEIT at the time when asked. In turn, ZDF argued that it was not always possible to “represent all conceivable positions in one program”.
The TV presenter Maybrit Illner also warned that inviting the AfD would lead to “unproductive debates” on the show. “With our show, we are always looking for the best solution to a problem. There is the position ‘The problem doesn’t even exist!’ rather not helpful. But we will invite the AfD again if it makes sense,” Illner promised.
JF research shows: Greens and FDP are particularly overrepresented
However, data analyzed by JUNGE FREIHEIT shows that the other parties represented in the Bundestag were in some cases far more frequent guests on the programs “Markus Lanz”, “Maybrit Illner”, “Maischberger” and “Anne Will” than their election results would suggest can close.
This is particularly true for the Greens. While they have made 21 percent of the invited politicians with 29 appearances since the beginning of 2023, they received only 14.8 percent of the votes for the 2021 federal election. With seven television appearances, Green Party leader Ricarda Lang was one of the most frequent TV guests alongside SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert.
Linke gets almost twice as many appearances as votes
The FDP was similarly overrepresented. With her 20 appearances, she accounted for around 14.6 percent of all programs. In the last federal election, she received 11.5 percent. The excess of representation was weakest in the case of the SPD. The party was represented in 27.7 percent of the talk shows on public broadcasting and came up with 25.7 percent in the last federal election.
However, the Left Party was the most over-represented in terms of voter favour. With 9.4 percent of all television appearances, she received almost twice as much TV presence as her election result of around 4.9 percent would suggest.
Only two AfD TV guests since the 2021 federal election
Overall, Red-Red-Green, with around 58 percent of the talk show appearances, were much more frequent guests on television than the Union, FDP and AfD (around 42 percent).
Since the federal elections in September 2021, only two AfD politicians have been invited to public radio talk shows, namely Tino Chrupalla on “Markus Lanz” on ZDF and Alice Weidel on “Maischberger” on the first. (fw)
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