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"Get the fixed costs down further" - Hessischer Rundfunk is cutting jobs

The Hessischer Rundfunk (HR) wants to reduce staff in the next few years.

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"Get the fixed costs down further" - Hessischer Rundfunk is cutting jobs

The Hessischer Rundfunk (HR) wants to reduce staff in the next few years. Director Florian Hager told the German Press Agency: "The number of jobs will be reduced." He did not give an exact number and the period. The downsizing will be done in a socially responsible manner. There should be no layoffs. The broadcaster employs around 1,700 people, plus around 990 freelancers.

According to HR information, the downsizing and the changed working environment are accompanied by a reduction in the space required at the Frankfurt site. The broadcaster is currently examining various options up to and including the sale of real estate.

Like the entire ARD, Hessischer Rundfunk is in the midst of a transformation. Digital offers apart from TV or radio programs are becoming increasingly important. At the same time, public service broadcasters are encouraged to save – several prime ministers recently made it clear that they would not support an increase in the broadcasting fee used to finance ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio.

The federal states set the amount of the contribution in a state treaty - currently 18.36 euros per month - but must be based closely on a recommendation from a commission. The current contribution period expires at the end of 2024. ARD is currently looking for more synergies within the nine state broadcasters.

The Hessischer Rundfunk is one of the medium-sized ARD houses. In recent years, his tense financial situation has been an issue again and again. There was also a fear that the station would have to be financially supported by other ARD houses, as is the case with Saarländisches Rundfunk and Radio Bremen. So far this has not happened.

The proven digital expert Florian Hager has been HR Director for around a year. The 46-year-old said: "At the same time as we are shrinking, we need to transform ourselves." The offer profile was very stable - i.e. with a television channel and radio channels with broadcasting slots. But we are now entering a time when the broadcasting slots are becoming less important.”

He explained: “We are now trying to eliminate the silos that exist in the structure of the house. We want to build ourselves more as a network structure. Broadcast slots and channels are nothing more than silos.”

The demolition affects all areas of the house. With a view to the restructuring of content and the focus on the digital, new capacities would also be created at the same time. It will also be checked what can still be done in-house in the future, what can be purchased in cooperation with other public institutions and what can also be purchased as an external service. "That means we will shrink during this time and still have to create new jobs in order not only to attract younger people to HR, but also people with skills that we don't have."

The Verdi union criticized the planned job cuts. According to the statement, union secretary Anja Willmann said: “The public service broadcaster assumes a central function in providing the population with information and entertainment. Reducing even more staff means a weakening of the broadcasting offer for the Hessians.”

Hager also said: "Our cost structure is very much characterized by fixed costs." This is due to the fact that HR has aligned its organization to a structure of offers that remains the same through fixed broadcasting slots and channels. Hager also addressed the topic of old-age provision, which is clearly reflected in the economic plans of public broadcasting: “We want to get the fixed costs down further. The burden of retirement provision is there, but it is no longer increasing. These contracts that result in this burden have not been offered for over 25 years.”

Hager also spoke about the self-image of the house: "We have to think about our role again. We have clearly anchored in the media state treaty to contribute to the formation of opinions and to social cohesion.” Hager added: “And I do ask myself whether what we are currently doing is a contemporary translation of it or whether we are still are in this world of slot logic.”

The broadcaster boss said: "We have the task of being there for Hesse." One is deeply rooted in Hessian society. "We make 70 percent of our reach via linear radio." The director also referred to this: "The more we get into digital, I'm convinced, the more present we have to be on site."

Regarding the pressure for reform in public service broadcasting, which has increased since the summer due to the crisis surrounding allegations of nepotism and waste at the ARD broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), Hager said: “HR can now play a certain pioneering role in the whole discussion .” Because you are most clearly forced to make these changes and not just talk about them, he added with a view to your own financial situation. "We will see where we can work together even better, reduce redundancies and enter into partnerships." This affects all areas such as the program, but also administration, technology and IT.

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