It barely deserves a mention....but the managing director of the German Cultural Council (Olaf Zimmermann) got himself into the headlines over the past week here in Germany.
He basically went out and suggested that all of the public TV forums (note: they only occur on public TV anyway, commercial German TV doesn't do forums)....ought to take a one-year break and change talk formats. In particular, he wants them to just stop talking about integration or asylum, or anything that could relate to immigrates.
The idea is....if you don't talk about it in some public TV forum, then things cool off, and go to a neutral zone.
I sat and pondered upon this logic.
First, what Zimmermann may not realize is that a fairly large segment of the German population don't watch the public TV forums. Among the fifteen to thirty year old crowd....other than the university 'kids'....no one watches the stuff. From the remaining crowd? I doubt if you could find three Germans out of ten that might occasionally watch the forums. So we might be talking about out of 82-million....perhaps three to four million who might watch the talk forums.
Second, if Zimmermann is correct....why limit the chat on just asylum, immigration or integration? Why not include limiting chat on diesel cars, the health care system, taxation, crime, and the EU? There are various topics while rile people up and you might want to consider just limiting public discussion in general.
Third, the question might be asked....do public forums change public perception anyway? The intellectual argument is yes....in every single case....forums cause you to pick the 'right' conclusion. In reality? I might go and suggest that at least a third of the people who watch these forums....have opinions that are concreted down and the forum does little to change their feelings.
Finally....if it's bad to engage in this discussion on a public TV forum....wouldn't be bad if you had three Germans meet in a city park and conduct the same discussion? Shouldn't you go and make some law that public discussions on possible voltaire topics illegal? Just stop public debate in general? In bars, in restaurants, at cafes?
Here's the thing....if the public TV controllers reach some conclusion of agreeing on this, without announcing it (just secretly agree to do none)....it'll take less than six weeks for the public to figure this out, and then start laughing over the decision. So their comeback? Why bother having forums, they all end up in arguments? Yep, so dump the forum shows and just go back to plain old fashion murder or krimi movies, or show reruns of Baywatch on ARD or ZDF.