Ex-RBB editor-in-chief admits 35,000 euros secret bonus

By Michael Sauerbier

For twelve years, Christoph Singelnstein (68, SPD) cashed in handsomely as editor-in-chief of the scandal broadcaster RBB. But he kept his fat bonus payments secret from his employees. Now he had to reveal them.

Moment of truth in the RBB investigation committee of the Brandenburg state parliament. There, MPs from all parties cross-examined Singelnstein. He was supposed to explain the secret system of bonus payments for the broadcaster bosses, which was exposed in the RBB scandal about self-enrichment and nepotism.

“I always had a non-tariff (AT) contract with performance-related remuneration,” admitted the former boss of 250 permanent and 500-600 freelance RBB journalists. “Some employees knew the goals that I had to achieve for this – but from the bonus payments They didn’t know anything.”

Under the former director Dagmar Reim there was “a certain arbitrariness” in the special allowances. Singelnstein: “There was criticism of that, but not of the amount of payments.” Nevertheless, the editor-in-chief developed a new bonus system with the management consultancy Kienbaum – with even higher extra payments.

The boss’s allowances became so expensive that “the RBB board of directors demanded: ‘take back the AT positions!'” reported Singelnstein. Instead, Raffke director Patricia Schlesinger also treated herself to a hefty bonus – something not planned by Kienbaum. Until she was kicked out, she was collecting around 350,000 euros a year.

RBB boss Patricia Schlesinger (61) is to be dismissed on Monday – because of billing fraud.  At least 20 members of the Broadcasting Council must vote in favor

The RBB boss Patricia Schlesinger (62), who was fired without notice, introduced a system of secret bonus payments for the station bosses Photo: dpa/picture-alliance

Singelnstein only wanted to reveal his own bonus behind closed doors: a special payment of 35,000 euros in 2020! With a basic salary of around 171,000 euros, he collected around 206,000 euros annually – almost as much as the new RBB director Ulrike Demmer (220,000 euros).

In 2021, Singelnstein had to take early retirement. He continued to collect around 180,000 euros per year through a secret consulting contract. When this was discovered in 2022, he lost the contract. He did not have to answer the committee why the editor-in-chief left early or what he did as an advisor. Boss Petra Budke (Greens): “That is not our investigation task!”