4. Media

4. Media rhartmann Sun, 11/26/2017 - 12:45
Medien und Zensur

The churches pursue an active media policy, to both secure themselves a broad platform for the dissemination of their own ideology in the public and limit critical reporting on the churches.

In the radio and television stations under public law, the main Christian churches enjoy a number of privileges. Not only does their presence in broadcasting councils allow them to exert their influence on programme planning, they are also allocated broadcasting times for programmes supporting the spreading of the "gospel", which they are free to organize as they please (transmission of church services, "Sunday Address" ["Wort zum Sonntag"]).

Apart from that, the (formally independent) church broadcasting departments transmit contributions presented as editorials, which are not identified as originating from the church in the previews. Existing inter-state agreements for broadcasting corporations (Rundfunkstaatsverträge) further entitle them to free broadcasting time at the private stations. For these programme windows, specific programmes are designed by professional broadcasting departments (e.g. KiP - Katholische Kirche im privaten Rundfunk = The Catholic Church in Private Radio), which, beyond the above, provide contributions regarding a variety of religious and church-related topics dealt with from the churches' point of view.

The offensive part of this media strategy pursued by the churches includes - and this is particularly true for the Catholic church - the development of their own production companies, which produce anything but just religious contributions. By entering the programme segment of entertainment (e.g. the crime series Schwarz greift ein), the churches have also become an economic factor in the media environment, that is, ideological and economic interests are mixed up.

On the other hand, the clergy continuously works towards topics that critically deal with the church being dropped from the programmes or pushed to unfavourable transmission times and the responsible reporters being intimidated. There is quite a number of examples of programmes completed that were not broadcast.

Also in the publishing world, the churches hold a key position, despite a decrease in print-runs; they operate a large number of publishing houses or influence the production of these through their capital interest. The result is a regular flood of Christian publications, from the daily newspaper through the weeklies and parish magazines to Christian "edificational" literature, and many of these are co-funded by public means.

And what is more, with the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons, the churches are provided an instrument for the enforcement of their own moral concept by means of indexing certain books.

What IBKA demands:

  • In a state (or Land or community) committed to philosophical-religious neutrality, there is no place for church representatives in controlling bodies exercising public power, be it directly or indirectly (such as broadcasting councils, the "Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons" [Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien], committees responsible for schools, youth and social affairs, etc.).
  • No religious or philosophical community shall be entitled to its own broadcasting times in the radio and television stations under public law. Any programmes they design on their own responsibility must be identified as such and paid for.
  • The funding and subsidising of church-internal or theological contributions to the media from public funds (including funds from the German Research Association [Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft]) shall be discontinued.
  • No employees (publicists, editors, journalists, etc.) of in institution under public law shall be put at a disadvantage because of their philosophical stance. The freedom of reporting, including critical and satirical reporting, on religious and church issues must be ensured.