Opinion takes the place of balanced reporting

by Professor Dr Eberhard Hamer

Acceptance of German media is falling dramatically.
    Annually Subscribers to German newspapers are quitting in numbers of five to six figures; and broadcasters have felt massive resistance to their fee increases for the first time.
    In the social media, the print media are increasingly being referred to as “mendatious press”, and television stations are accused of increasingly one-sided government propaganda.
    The Mittelstandsinstitut Hannover has conducted a survey of its Mittelstand (small and medium-sized businesses plus middle class wage earners) contact addresses and to its question “Which media do you trust most?” it received the following answers: internet media 52%, print media 48% and state radio media 36%.
     When asked “Why?”, entrepreneurs cited above all the overly optimistic media reports in contrast to the actual economic situation, while the employed middle class mainly mentioned the left-green one-sidedness of programmes. On balance: all media now present more opinion than news, the public service media even manipulate or go as far as educating opinion.
    The following examples of such manipulation of opinion were mentioned among others:

  • Despite the biggest crash in history, the business programmes have constantly broadcast positive news and articles and are now bringing upswing news – notabene upswing from a previously denied economic slump.
  • Only corporate news plays a role in the economic reports. The catastrophic situation of the 80% small businesses in our economy does not appear in the media.
  • The German citizens’ oversized debt through hundreds of billions in gifts to other European states and corporations is hailed by the media as “European solidarity”, instead of mentioning the debt burden of 620 Euros for each citizen and taxpayer and the consequences of poverty.
  • The continuing “immigration into the German social system” does not take place in the media, it is concealed. When individual celebrities mention it, they get to be defamed as “xenophobic” and “right-wing extremist”.
  • In view of the deteriorating US relations, the middle class considers trade with Russia indispensable – the media, on the other hand, fight for the maintenance of sanctions and spread only negative reports about Russia and Vladimir Putin.
  • The more dramatically the rate of short-time work and unemployment in Germany rises, the less this is covered in the media.

Investigators of the Mittelstandsinstitut also had the impression that the media are now more concerned with manipulating opinion than with presenting information. They also point out that the media are becoming increasingly dependent on the state: Newspapers are constantly losing subscribers and advertisements. Several months ago, the German government therefore included a special programme of 40 million “state aid” for obedient media in the current budget, in addition to the 104 million usual media financing. Public television is now no longer neutral information, but state-financed state propaganda, financed by compulsory fees, which in reality are a propaganda tax (8 billion).
    “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.” This is the only explanation for the fact that the largest opposition party is practically locked out of all government-financed media; it no longer occurs. This has nothing to do with democracy. The same government politicians who consider state manipulation of the media reprehensible when practised by Mr Orban, find this practice useful in Germany.
    According to democratic theory, media should not be state-funded and therefore state-owned, but free. However, this means that first of all the corruption of state financing must be ended. The propaganda tax GEZ1 is not only anti-competitive vis-à-vis the private broadcasters, but also damaging to democracy, precisely because it fights against opposition or locks it out completely. The propaganda tax must be ended, as must the special payments in the budget for the obedience of the media.            •

1  GEZ stands for “GebührenEinzugsZentrale”, the Fee Collection Center of the Public Broadcasting Companies in the Federal Republic of Germany.


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