Erik Bettermann became director of Deutsche Welle in May 2001. German (conservative) daily Die Welt on May 11, 2001:
In a hurriedly arranged press conference, Betterman missed no opportunity to highlight the maximum [separation between the state and] Deutsche Welle which needed to be defended against the covetousness of political parties, too. “I’m nobody’s auxiliary person”, the studied social education worker, who turned 57 on Tuesday, protested against dogged office grapevine.
In einer eiligen anberaumten Pressekonferenz ließ Bettermann keine Gelegenheit aus, auf die möglichst große “Staatsferne” der DW hinzuweisen, die es auch gegen alle Begehrlichkeiten der Parteien zu verteidigen gelte. “Ich bin kein Erfüllungsgehilfe von irgendjemand”, verwahrte sich der studierte Sozialpädagoge, der am vergangenen Dienstag 57 Jahre alt wurde, gegen den hartnäckigen Flurfunk.
Three months earlier, Bettermann’s predecessor, Dieter Weirich, had told Die Welt in an interview that the most commanding soap-box speakers on the subject of freedom of the air waves were also the greatest enemies of the concept.
Weirich left his post as DW director at the end of March, 2001, rather than when his term officially ended, on November 30, 2001. As a christian democrat, he stood no chance to be re-elected as the station’s director, and besides, Die Welt described his working relations with then Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, Michael Naumann*), as first-class emnity (eine Feindschaft erster Güte). Weirich didn’t protest, and suggested that then Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder should be happy about his performance – after all, Schröder had recommended that Germans should show no subservience (Untertanengeist). He himself had never given in to attempts from members of his own party, the christian democrats, to make the Welle the federal [governments] subordinate. His concept of the Deutsche Welle directorship had always been politically neutral.
Die Welt: There were advances from [federal commissioner] Naumann’s office last year, to reduce the responsibilities of the [DW] director, and to broaden the influence of political parties.
Weirich: Freedom of the airwaves is schoolbook content in this country. The most commanding soap-box speakers on the subject of freedom of the air waves are also the greatest enemies of the concept. That’s nothing new.
Die Welt: Aus der NaumannBehörde gab es vergangenes Jahr Vorstöße, die Verantwortung des Intendanten zu reduzieren und den Einfluss der Politik zu erweitern.
Weirich: Rundfunkfreiheit steht hierzulande in Schulbüchern. Die imposantesten Sonntagsredner zur Rundfunkfreiheit sind ihre größten Gegner. Das ist nicht neu.