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German TV boss quits after claims of ‘spending orgies’ that included €145k Audi, massage chairs and Italian parquet floors

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Patricia Schlesinger is accused of riding around in a chauffeur-driven Audi worth €145,000

Patricia Schlesinger is accused of riding around in a chauffeur-driven Audi worth €145,000

Patricia Schlesinger is accused of riding around in a chauffeur-driven Audi worth €145,000

The head of Germany’s main public broadcaster has quit after being accused of using public money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including buying a bespoke office refurbishment equipped with massage chairs.

Patricia Schlesinger resigned as head of ARD, the German equivalent of RTÉ, after she was accused of going on “spending orgies”.

The row has led to calls for Germany’s compulsory television licence fee to be dropped.

According to the Business Insider website, Ms Schlesinger billed her employer for parties she threw at her home, rode around in a chauffeur-driven Audi worth €145,000 and oversaw lucrative consultancy contracts that were handed to her husband.

Further allegations made in Bild listed €650,000 of refurbishments Ms Schlesinger ordered for her office, including Italian parquet flooring and two massage chairs.

The allegations have enraged opponents of the licence fee because Ms Schlesinger was responsible for pushing for an increase in the fee last year, insisting that the broadcaster was having to scrimp and save just to survive.

Germany’s two public broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, are the best financed in the world – with a combined annual budget of €8bn.

Failure for a household to pay the compulsory €18 licence fee can result in a jail sentence, with one man becoming a cause-celebre for refuseniks when he spent 101 days in prison last year.

The levy is supposed to be spent on impartial reporting and the broadcasters’ budgets are, on paper, subject to very strict parliamentary oversight.

Ms Schlesinger, who was until Sunday the most powerful woman in Germany’s media, denied the allegations in her resignation letter, claiming that she was the victim of a “defamation campaign” against her. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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