Laureate 2006: Professor Volker Lilienthal

Prof. Dr. Volker Lilienthal
Photo: epd

Professor Volker Lilienthal
revealed by intensive investigations over years - even against fierce judicial resistance - that there is surreptitious advertising in the public TV station ARD.

Professor Volker Lilienthal has been working as editor at the Evangelic News Service (epd) in Frankfurt/Main. Since 1997 he has been deputy head of epd medien and since 2005 until 2009 it’s editor in charge. In April 2009, he was appointed professor of quality journalism at the University of Hamburg. Since January 2012, he is also co-editor of the journalism magazine message.

Lilienthal revealed the so-called scandal of surreptitious advertising in the public TV station ARD (First German Television). Despite of all intimidations he had done partially covered investigations over many years and revealed illegal practices. When the agency "H.+S." which was significantly involved in surreptitious advertising found out about Lilienthal’s investigations, it initiated legal proceedings against him. That impeded him in his work for almost two years. A judgment of the Regional Court of Munich prohibited him to publish his findings. In case of violation he would have to pay a penalty of 250,000 Euros. It was the Higher Regional Court of Munich which only annulled the judgement in January 2005 and allowed Lilienthal to continue his investigations. In June this year his report "The Bavaria-Connection" was published in epd medien and in the journalist magazine.

In the meantime the ARD published a revision report that completely confirms the epd investigations. The "Bavaria Film" company, owned by majority by four ARD stations violated broadcast legislation by having allowed surreptitious advertising over the past ten years. Günter Struve, ARD program director says: "First, I didn’t believe it, because I couldn’t imagine that such a big thing is possible without noticing it in our company." Fritz Pleitgen, WDR director now acknowledges Lilienthal’s achievement: The journalist has done a "deserving work".