Secret ARD talk show contracts: Millions for Maischberger & Co.

ARD talk shows have weight and impact on society’s perception of current political issues. Now details have become known about the financial deals between the broadcaster and the prominent faces, which confirm the suspected million-dollar business. The protagonists involved are silent.

The political battle term “conspiracy theory” does not have to be mentioned or used to criticize the sober reality of unbalanced casts and deliberately invited guests, mostly government-compliant conversation processes and manipulative moderations, for the three ARD flagships of talk evening entertainment. The programs in question are “Maischberger”, “Anne Will” and “Hart aber fair”. The two moderators Sandra Maischberger and Anne Will, as well as Luisa Neubauer’s (Fridays for Future) partner, Louis Klamroth, regularly impress with their obvious government-friendly conversation style.

“Hitler was defeated with weapons, and so was Putin” – historian Schlögel goes steeply with Anne Will

“Hitler was defeated with weapons, and so was Putin” – historian Schlögel goes steeply with Anne Will

The news portal Business Insider (BI) now published individual numbers and totals, referring to “one of the best-kept secrets in public broadcasting” (pay barrier). The BI-Article begins by asking the question of what the “political talk shows” as well as the prominent presenters actually cost or could earn. In the background of the productions there is “a complicated network of discreet contracts and detailed agreements”. It has been known in the industry for decades that the ratings stars, as a “gift” from the public broadcaster, usually organize their programs through their own production companies “and can therefore earn twice as much.”

Business Insider managed to view “confidential documents” that provided a “precise insight into the talk show contracts” of the three ARD programs mentioned. This involves “cost statements” and current negotiations regarding the “future of political talks and corresponding million-dollar contracts for the next few years”. In this regard it says:

“In addition to the production contract for her company Vincent Productions, of which she owns 80 percent (her husband holds the remaining 20 percent), Maischberger negotiated a separate moderation contract. According to the internal documents, the contract brings her a total of 795,000 for 34 programs per year “In addition, Maischberger’s production company receives around 2.3 million euros per year for editorial work.”

Vincent Productions achieved a net profit of more than 600,000 euros in the first year of the agreement. It is striking that, despite the million-dollar contracts, the costs for the pure production of the programs remain solely with the broadcaster, i.e. the GEZ payers:

“The leading broadcasters, WDR and NDR, take on a large share of the talks, but the rest is divided within ARD.”

“Training program for journalists”: The Office for the Protection of the Constitution meets on the topic of “Opinion Formation 2.0”

“Training program for journalists”: The Office for the Protection of the Constitution meets on the topic of “Opinion Formation 2.0”

For “Hard but Fair” the responsible WDR calculated “annual costs of 1.7 million euros”. The former “Hart aber fair” presenter Plasberg runs the company Ansager & Schnipselmann with a partner. According to the present overview, of the ARD’s total costs of “6.6 million euros annually”, around 4.9 million euros flow to the Plasberg company “for editing and moderation, guest acquisition and players”. The generous salary is:

“This includes: a fee of around 21,500 euros per 75-minute program for Plasberg. With an average of 34 programs per year, that’s almost 730,000 euros just for his moderation.”

Referring to “Maischberger – the week”, the amounts “for camera and sound, OB vans, event technology or travel costs add up to 1.6 million euros per year”. Referring to the personality of Anne Will, it says BI-Article:

“According to the secret overview, “Anne Will” has been the most expensive of the three talk formats on Erste in recent years. The total annual costs were calculated at around 7.5 million euros. That makes around 250,000 euros for each of the 30 programs – more than 4100 euros per minute.”

The production company would be “Will Media GmbH”, currently with a balance sheet profit “of around 1.2 million euros”. The current agreements with Sandra Maischberger, who since a program reform in April 2022 “can be seen two days a week, i.e. more often than stipulated in the secret contract overview,” are still unknown.

During the Corona crisis, Sandra Maischberger, as well as Anne Will, were considered reliable and largely uncritical supporters of the controversially perceived role of the former “health policy spokesman” for the SPD and Health Minister Lauterbach, who has been in office since November 2021. Frank Plasberg will be remembered for his statement in November 2020 as part of a deliberately limited vaccination discussion. In November 2020 he moderated his show with the following statement:

“Our topic this evening: Operation vaccination, is it good, is it safe? Who will get it and when? An explanation upfront – If you expect a discussion with professional anti-vaccination or corona deniers in this program, I have to disappoint you But you can take our guests today more seriously.”

Anne Will recently clearly demonstrated her emphatic solidarity with regard to the expected neutrality in the conduct of talks with Ukraine and Western arms deliveries in her broadcast on September 17th.

When asked, “neither the ARD broadcasters WDR and NDR responsible for the talk shows nor the production companies involved” wanted to comment on the research Business Insider express.

More on the subject – “Ernstfall” – ARD and the Chancellery together at the limit

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