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Banner from Identitarians displayed in Cologne. Photo: IB
Cologne

Dispute over German broadcaster’s “environmental pig” song continues

Several editors from German public broadcaster WDR have accused director Tom Buhrow of harming the broadcaster with the so-called "environmental pig" affair. On Tuesday there will therefore be an editorial meeting in which Buhrow will also take part.

Published: January 7, 2020, 5:38 am

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    “We are – as many of you are sure – stunned,” the editor’s representative noted in an internal circular letter, according to a report by the dpa news agency.

    The editors are stunned “of course not about a satire that may be a matter of taste; no, we are stunned that the programme director of WDR2 has a video deleted with a satirical children’s song, and above all that director Tom Buhrow so easily gives in to a controversy apparently orchestrated by right-wing extremists, hastily distances himself editorially and does not only apologize personally, but in the process repeatedly in public (including live at WDR2), stabbing editors in the back instead of strengthening their voices in times of a staged outrage against the WDR and the ÖRR [public service broadcasting]”. Buhrow thus endangered the freedom of broadcasters to do whatever they like.

    The case had caused violent reactions between Christmas and New Year’s. The occasion was a video with the WDR children’s choir, in which they sang about a grandmother being “an old environmental pig”. To emphasize the insult, a freelancer at WDR went one step further and turned the “environmental pig grandma” into a “Nazi pig grandma” .

    Criticism of the song quickly spread on social networks. Users accused the WDR of politically abusing the children and playing young against old, thereby inciting a generation gap.

    Buhrow justified his criticism of the song again on Friday and rejected the allegation that he had listened to conservatives.

    “You can’t stop these kinds of people, you can’t control them. And I don’t make my decisions dependent on them,” he said.

    Hundreds of seniors and their grandchildren had expressed their displeasure on the phone. And these were real expressions of emotion from otherwise well-meaning listeners. “It was immediately clear to us that these people were not part of an orchestrated thing.”

    Meanwhile, members of the Identity Movement protested against the broadcaster on Sunday afternoon at the WDR broadcasting center near Cologne Cathedral Square. They posted a banner with the words “Stop WDR media agitation – sabotage GEZ” at the broadcasting center and threw leaflets from the top floor.

    GEZ is a German public agency, which collects fees for German public broadcasting. In other words, the GEZ is a state organisation that takes money from the people to produce public TV and radio programmes to produce propaganda.

    The fee is justified on the basis that the government wants to provide “a diversity of high-quality programmes on television, on the radio, online and in media libraries” without having to rely on commercial networks and advertising.

    The justification is similar to that in other countries which are committed to public broadcasting, although the German system is managed in a different way.

    Unlike the UK’s licensing system or Australia’s income tax-based charge, the German TV tax is charged on a per household basis – which is not a very equitable system since those sharing a house or flat are liable to pay the same as single inhabitant.

    According to the Identitarian’s statements, they wanted to send a signal against “against increasing media propaganda”.

    The Rund­funk­beitrag is a letter informing you about your obligations under the German TV and radio tax and requires each household to pay €17.50 per month towards the Beitragsservice, which is the public service institution in charge of German public broadcasters on TV and radio.

    In effect, a five-person shared house in which students live, pays the same per month as a grandmother living on her own.

    It is to be hoped that IB Germany’s action against the WDR will encourage even more citizens to protest peacefully against the conversion of public television channels into left-wing propaganda centers.

    In response to the peaceful protests of the IB, the station was immediately cordoned off like a crime scene and one got the impression that a terrorist attack had taken place.

    In a statement, IB said: “We are protesting against the latest excesses of the ideologically motivated agitation of public service broadcasting, which mocks honest citizens and tries to incite the generations against each other. The much-criticized ‘environmental pig’ video triggered a broad wave of outrage, but is actually only the tip of a gigantic iceberg of propaganda contributions from the state media, which is fed with compulsory fees.

    “The public service media, which are committed to neutrality and balanced information, have long since given up their critical distance from government power and are instead pursuing ideological indoctrination and paternalism.

    It was our concern to express the justified anger of millions of contributors about this scandalous development through a spectacular campaign.”

    After the IB operation, the police noted the personal details of five men between the ages of 20 and 33. According to a witness, the area at Wallrafplatz was cordoned off and the IB activists were stopped by police.

    The state police of Cologne are currently investigating IB members for violating the Assembly Act and trespassing.

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