Dispute over broadcasting fees: culture war in saxony-anhalt

The fee dispute is not about 86 cents. The AfD and the right wing of the CDU want to weaken a supposedly left-green broadcasting.

Cover letter of the dispute Photo: Hendrik Schmidt/dpa

It’s not about the 86 cents. CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak is setting a false trail when he describes the coalition crisis in Saxony-Anhalt as a dispute over a "sober factual issue." What is really at stake was clearly stated in an interview by the ousted Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht. The right wing of the state CDU is fighting back against the alleged moral apostasy of an intellectual, naturally left-green minority, against gender language and political correctness.

Stahlknecht’s openness is gratifyingly honest. Parts of a governing party thus want to reprimand public journalism, which is perceived as too left-wing, by cutting it off. This is a blatant threat to a democratic institution.

It is about ideology, not about structures, positions or representation. Anyone who pretends to be arguing here about whether every evening show on MDR is indispensable or whether the regional studio in Dessau-Roblau is big enough is deliberately playing dumb. The right wing of the CDU in Saxony-Anhalt feels closer to the AfD than to the co-ruling Greens. It adopts the same contemptuous tone set by the far-right AfD: For them, the public broadcasters are a leftist-green propaganda machine that indoctrinates upstanding citizens.

There should be no illusions about the motive. The AfD hates critical journalism because it exposes its weaknesses. It is not without reason that AfD politicians like to insult journalists, that colleagues are threatened with violence or even physically attacked at right-wing demonstrations. At AfD party conferences, motions are regularly made to exclude the media. That public broadcasting is the target of an AfD campaign is no coincidence. Without it, more people would believe their lies. The disparagement of free media is a core element of right-wing populist strategy.

Is it fair to think that the broadcasters don’t need more money, even though the 86 cents more is de facto the first fee increase since 2009? Of course. But to ignore the context of the debate as consistently as the federal leadership of the CDU is doing is dangerous and wrong. Ziemiak is in effect defending the idea of the right-wing CDU in Saxony-Anhalt to torpedo a reform supported by 15 state parliaments and several CDU minister presidents. Against the declared will of the coalition partners, but together with fascists.

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