The Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) has now presented excerpts of a report by the independent anti-corruption officer in connection with the allegations of corruption at the NDR Landesfunkhaus Hamburg - and according to the broadcaster, the audit came to the conclusion that "the allegations at hand do not contain any facts of corruption through action or omission of the director Sabine Rossbach". The allegations of the past few weeks have thus turned out to be false.
In a jointly published statement, Rossbach reaffirms her decision, made in September, to make her position as head of the state broadcasting station available as early as April 1, 2023, due to the loss of trust between her and parts of the editorial team for a new start at the Hamburg state broadcasting station. She will probably not return to her position before then either.
A few weeks ago, employees at the state broadcasting station in Hamburg wrote to NDR Director General Joachim Knuth calling for a “new corporate and management culture”. They reported influencing reporting contrary to editorial decisions and a "climate of fear". "We can no longer imagine a trusting cooperation with Sabine Rossbach," the letter said. Similar letters had also been written in the Landesfunkhaus Kiel, where parts of the leadership were exchanged.
Director Knuth said of the test report that is now available: "I am relieved that the serious suspicions have not been confirmed. Sabine Rossbach is an outstanding journalist who has dedicated her entire professional life to NDR. I regret that this achievement has been overshadowed by the allegations made in recent weeks. The fact that she is also paving the way for a new start at the state broadcasting center speaks for her strong connection to NDR".
Rossbach himself also commented in detail on the allegations in public for the first time. She was "always convinced of my journalistic and personal integrity". The independent report by the anti-corruption officer relieves them and affected colleagues at the Hamburg State Broadcasting Corporation at the same time. Rossbach: "That's important to me, because credibility in our work is our greatest asset. But in the last few weeks, a lot of mutual trust has been lost - and that's why I would like to clear the way for a repositioning at the Landesfunkhaus Hamburg".
The NDR's independent anti-corruption commissioner had checked whether, in relation to the allegations made, the actions or omissions of the director of the Hamburg broadcasting center had led to corruption. This is not the case. However, in one case in 2012, Rossbach violated the NDR service instructions for protection against corruption because she only informed her superiors verbally and not in writing that her daughter is a co-owner of a PR agency that oversees events in Hamburg about which was also reported in the program of the Landesfunkhaus. However, the suspicion raised that events had been “placed” in the NDR program was unfounded in the cases and circumstances examined. Editorial staff had reported that relevant event information had repeatedly been forwarded to journalists with brief comments.
Director Knuth now wants to have this procedure further investigated by two journalists from the house. The two should check whether journalistic standards have been violated or whether reporting has been influenced. The results of this test should be available by the end of the current week.