German pubcaster reveals Stasi past

ARD report on former secret police infiltration

COLOGNE, Germany -- The report reads like an outtake from the Oscar-winning film “The Lives of Others.”

An investigation published Thursday by Germany’s first channel, public broadcaster ARD, reveals the East German secret police -- the Stasi -- influenced German television and radio reports on both sides of the Berlin Wall.

In the East, the Stasi dictated the official propaganda broadcast by the GDR’s state broadcaster. In the West, it infiltrated German broadcasters and tried to plant misinformation.

But while the Stasi did manage to slip a few misleading reports into the West German media, the report finds it did not influence programming or personnel decisions.

“The Stasi acquired a broad overview of the structures and personnel of ARD channels but still did not understand how a public broadcaster works in a democracy,” the report said.

ARD said it hopes the exhaustive, independent study can be used as a model for other former communist countries wanting to investigate the functioning of state propaganda.