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IFJ condemns political interference to remove TV chief

(IFJ/IFEX) - 27 November 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional organization, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), condemned today's decision to remove Nikolaus Brender, Editor-in-Chief of the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF). The decision not to extend his contract was taken by the Administrative Council, against the recommendation of the broadcaster's director-general, Markus Schächter.

Committee members aligned with the Christian Democratic Party, and representing a majority on the Administrative Committee, have made clear their intention to block the renewal of his contract for some months.

"This is a shocking act of political meddling in media freedom," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Public Service Broadcasters must be independent from all forms of political control. This incident is an affront to the principles of public broadcasting and will ultimately damage its reputation for independent news coverage."

Brender has been editor-in-chief at the ZDF for nine years during which time he has developed a reputation for stubborn independence.

The ZDF section of Verdi, an affiliate of the IFJ, has accused Roland Koch, Prime Minister of the German State of Hesse (CDU), and member of the Administrative Council, of being behind the plot.

"This decision was a brutal demonstration of political power against media," said Verdi. "This was not just a case of removing Brender, but an attempt to gain control over the programming of a leading media".

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