ARD is again planning more programs apart from the Ukraine war

The ARD wants to gradually show more programs apart from the war in Ukraine in the main program – but at the same time continue to serve the high viewer interest in the war.

Around five weeks after the start of the war in the Ukraine, ARD continues to record a high level of viewer interest. At the same time, the broadcasting chain wants to gradually show more programs away from the war in the joint broadcaster Das Erste. ARD editor-in-chief Oliver Köhr told the German Press Agency: “At some point we, as those responsible for the full program, will have to fulfill our mandate for bandwidth again. In the longer term, we cannot offer almost exclusively coverage of the war and its consequences, as we have done in the past few weeks.”

Looking back, Köhr added that a lot of other programs had been moved to the ARD media library or to the niche channel One, for example. “Of course we will continue to offer special programs. However, I believe that we would overwhelm many if we continued to organize the complete evening program every evening from ‘Tagesschau’ to ‘Tagesthemen’ and then mono-thematically with the topic of Ukraine.” Köhr said: “Now, after five weeks, we have to take a look how we dose it. But of course we are able to create more space at any time.” On Friday, for example, ARD announced a focus in the children’s program in the first for Saturday.

Some time ago, ARD announced that it would expand the program on the Tagesschau24 news channel, which has been around for a few years but is not yet so well known to many. Tagesschau24 should become the first address on ARD for current major news situations and offer a permanent flow of news. In addition, the ARD-ZDF broadcaster Phoenix will continue to play an important role, as it does now during war reporting. In the past, ARD had repeatedly been criticized for not changing the main program quickly enough in so-called breaking news situations.

Self-criticism at the ARD

Köhr commented self-critically on the fact that at the beginning of the war there were temporarily no German ARD reporters in the Ukraine. In retrospect, he was happy that the program reacted so quickly to the beginning of the war. The reporting from the Ukraine worked very well in the first few days. Köhr added: “But then there was a phase of two days when we weren’t there with German reporters. Of course that annoys me. It would have been better if things had gone differently.”

Köhr said: “After these two days, we were and are now permanently on site again.” At the same time, he pointed out that there was also a widespread network of local staff who had provided information from the start that was included in the reporting had flowed in.

The war continues to interest many people, even more than Corona. “The interest in the war is even greater than that in the pandemic,” said the editor-in-chief of the public broadcaster ARD. Of course, Corona was also an overarching topic that was discussed extensively in various broadcast formats and all playout channels. “But it didn’t go so far that our program was almost monothematic for many weeks.”

More documentaries in the media library

In the media library, at the beginning of the Corona period, it was already noticed that the viewers quickly wanted to hear and see something about other topics than the pandemic. “It’s different now when it comes to reporting on the war in Ukraine. At the moment, the saturation level that has occurred with Corona has not yet been reached. Interest is still very high,” said Köhr. In the media library they want to expand the documentary area on Ukraine.

Köhr cited the following as reasons for the continuing high level of interest in war reporting: “War is of course particularly frightening when it is taking place practically on our doorstep and refugees are present everywhere, in every city and at every train station, immediately after the war has started. And it certainly also plays a role that it is currently mainly grandmothers, mothers and children who are fleeing and not, as was the case in 2015, primarily young men. Of course, that affects you emotionally in a completely different way.”

Text: dpa/ Editor: JN


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