“We have to do similar things to football”

Dusseldorf It is the first production for the streaming pioneer Netflix, and the filmmakers’ expectations are high: “Betonrausch” is to become a showcase project by Germany’s largest film production company Ufa. The crazy story about two real estate speculators in Berlin has been available on Friday at the US streaming service. The film breathes “a very special energy”, says Ufa managing director Nico Hofmann, also because there is a very young team behind the production.

For the 60-year-old Ufa boss, the focus has been on promoting young filmmakers for years. As a professor, he teaches at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, where he also suspects the filmmakers of the future. The start of “Betonrausch” brought together everything that is important to Hofmann: the promotion of young talents, controversial topics and work for the international market.

And yet everything is different for the experienced film manager who has produced successful series such as “Our Mothers, Our Fathers”, “Ku’Damm” and “Charité”. The corona crisis is also putting pressure on Ufa, which is part of the Bertelsmann media company. While people watch TV more than ever and spend so much time on streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Spending Prime Video like never before, film production is stalling.

“We had to interrupt six ongoing productions,” says Hofmann. A situation that he has never seen before. Projects like “A strong team”, “Ku’Damm 63” or “The incredible lightness of the revolution” are on hold.

According to Hofmann, the damage from the demolition is in the millions. Costs are also incurred in other places: the short-time working allowance that has been applied for for some employees is topped up by Ufa. Hofmann does not want to leave his people alone in this situation. Then there are the logistical costs of the breaks.

“It all mixes up to a very high amount,” says the Ufa boss. “There are small and medium-sized companies that are sure to be hit harder than us. But we, as one of the market-leading production companies, are also facing major challenges. ”

At least with the studio productions, the Ufa can continue to work – in compliance with the hygienic requirements. Ufa produces series such as “GZSZ”, “Unter uns” and “Everything that counts”. “We paused a week with our dailies and used the time to further adapt the scripts and sets to the security measures to minimize risk,” says Hofmann.

An elaborate procedure: “An 80-point program was developed, which is discussed in detail with our occupational health and safety experts and is constantly checked.” This includes, for example, measuring the fever of the actors on the set.

How should the producers proceed in the coming months? The producer Hofmann, who backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy in 2015, is now also supporting the Federal Government’s cautionary crisis policy. “We will certainly experience this driving on sight not only for the next four weeks, but perhaps for the next four months. I think that’s right. “

However, the work of the film producers would complicate the precautionary measures. The crews could keep their distance, says Hofmann. But it is not always possible with actors, for example when it comes to kissing scenes.

“We probably have to do things similar to football: we have to test the actors on the set several times over the production for the corona virus. Otherwise we won’t be in the fictional production area for months – and that would cause enormous damage. ”

Crisis as inspiration

The Ufa boss sees little room for maneuver: “If we have reasonably precise political guidelines on how we can shoot again by June, then I think that’s manageable.” On the other hand, if there is no clarity by September, it will be “guaranteed.” come to considerable bottlenecks ”.

The companies help each other in a nationwide producer alliance. The crisis situation poses problems especially for smaller companies. Hofmann wants to convey: “One thing we must not forget: in three or four months we will need all the people from the shooting team again. The employees are just remembering exactly how they are treated where. ”

The failures on the production side are doubly annoying for film companies like Ufa because media usage is just reaching record levels. “Since the announcement of the tightened measures, we have seen a massive increase in the average linear TV viewing time of 14 percent to an average of 209 minutes a day,” said Jörg Graf, Managing Director of RTL Television. In addition to news programs, entertainment programs in particular achieve high reach. “Many people long for a bit of normalcy and distraction,” says Graf.

Hofmann confirms: “All of the escapist formats are going through the roof.” Escaping in films and series helps people to master the narrowness of everyday life. But one day the crisis is over, the film manager is also convinced that the escapes from reality will be less in demand again.

Three weeks ago, the ARD broadcast the Ufa production “Our wonderful years” and thus reached more than six million viewers. In addition, there were more than nine million requests in the media library. “These are values ​​that can otherwise only be achieved with a football game,” says Hofmann.

The corona crisis, which banishes people worldwide to their homes, changes their way of life, but also stimulates rethinking, also inspires Hofmann. There are already three seasons of the “Charité” hospital series, starting with the first part, in which the life of the scientist Robert Koch was traced.

Hofmann: “Half a year ago we started to think about how we could tell ‘Charité’ in the present time. We were concerned with the topic of virology – that’s astonishing. “

More: The world’s largest entertainment group starts its Disney + streaming service in Germany. It will be uncomfortable for the domestic television companies.

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Bertelsmann is gearing up against Corona employees on short-time work

Bertelsmann boss Thomas Rabe

The media crisis is preparing for the consequences of the corona epidemic.

(Photo: AFP)

Berlin The media giant Bertelsmann sees itself armed with a record profit in the back to cushion the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. “Bertelsmann is well prepared,” said CEO Thomas Rabe on Tuesday. With the broad positioning of the business “we are less susceptible to economic fluctuations and can continue to invest in our future without going into substance.”

Business was largely stable in the first quarter, but it will be “more difficult” in the second quarter, Rabe announced. Further forecasts are currently not reliable. A few hundred of the roughly 126,000 employees worldwide are already on short-time work. This instrument is being examined in particular in some areas of the service business.

The media, services and education group wants to cushion the consequences of the epidemic with various measures. This is about liquidity management, said Rabe and emphasized: “We are profitable, have a high level of liquidity and a comfortable equity ratio.” sales increased by two percent to 18 billion euros.

Rabe expects headwind in the advertising business. For example, some customer campaigns could be postponed because products may be difficult to access due to closed stores.

Bertelsmann’s European TV subsidiary RTL Group had recently announced that it would be registering first line item cancellations and production impacts. According to Rabes, Bertelsmann has also noticed positive effects since the beginning of the crisis: The audience figures at RTL Group have increased. At Penguin Random House, there is more demand, especially for e-books and audio books. In addition, the music subsidiary BMG is benefiting from more streaming and the education sector is feeling a higher demand for online learning offers.

“Strategy remains unchanged – Corona or not”

In this extraordinary situation, all media are of social and systemic importance, said Rabe. “We are part of the critical infrastructure in Germany that needs to be maintained and supported right now.” You provide serious information and entertain millions of people.

Despite the epidemic, Bertelsmann wants to keep an eye on its long-term goals. “Bertelsmann’s strategy remains unchanged – Corona or not.” This year the group plans to continue investing heavily in its own technological expertise – especially in the areas of cloud, data and artificial intelligence.

“In addition, we will continue to advance cooperation and alliances, both internally and with external partners,” said Rabe. The Bertelsmann Content Alliance in the content area in Germany and the Ad Alliance in advertising marketing are to be expanded. “In this way, we will expand the Bertelsmann Content Alliance to the markets in France, Great Britain and later the USA.”

The share of digital business in sales climbed above the 50 percent mark for the first time in 2019. The contribution of high-growth businesses reached 36 percent and is expected to increase to 40 percent in the coming years.

More: RTL invests heavily in streaming services

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A third of all managers struggle with their own leadership role

Dusseldorf German companies have a problem in their management levels – and it is the managers themselves. Or more precisely: their attitude and their level of confidence.

Because almost a third of all managers struggle massively with themselves and their own role. Young managers in particular are plagued by great self-doubt. This is shown by the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s current “Executive Radar”, which the think tank created in collaboration with the Reinhard Mohn Institute for Corporate Management (RMI) at the University of Witten / Herdecke.

According to this, every fifth manager judges that they do not meet their own demands in the job. And a good 25 percent of those questioned even agree that they would make a higher contribution to a group if it was not led by them but by someone else.

“This finding is a serious problem for companies,” says the report, which was available to the Handelsblatt in advance. The authors justify it because insecure managers would rarely achieve their goals and employees would be less able to get their messages across. “Leadership doubts go hand in hand with less leadership effect,” the authors write.

Around 1,000 managers in Germany participated in the representative survey.

Young executives particularly affected

The self-doubts seem to be particularly deeply rooted in Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2001). There, almost 44 percent of the executives surveyed struggle with themselves and their tasks. The most confident, however, are the so-called baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). Here, only 21 percent stated high management doubts.

The study could not find a big difference between men and women in terms of self-doubt. The size of the company also played a minor role.

The astonishing uncertainty among the managerial staff is justified with a lack of clarity and excessive bureaucratic and formal hurdles when it comes to completing their own tasks.

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What the “executive radar” also shows: The high burden on managers often rubs off negatively on the productivity and satisfaction of employees. Around 45 percent of the highly stressed managers stated that they adopt a rather skeptical attitude towards their employees. Of the less stressed managers, only 16.4 percent answered yes to this question. Such bosses are hardly likely to really motivate their teams.

“Managers themselves need motivating and supportive conditions in order to lead effectively and create a creative and innovative working atmosphere for their teams, as well as to implement changes,” says Liz Mohn, deputy chairwoman of the board of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

The study makers therefore give the following tips on how companies can help unsettled managers:

  • The issue of stress should be addressed openly in development discussions.
  • If necessary, unsettled managers can be offered support via the HR department with workshops and coaching.
  • The conditions of the managers should be checked regularly – preferably semi-annually or quarterly: Where can ambiguities be removed? Where to cut red tape?
  • In middle management, the superiors on the level above can act as role models – and appeal to work on themselves.
  • However, those who suffer permanently from their own role as managers must, in case of doubt, take responsibility – and perform other tasks, write the study authors.

The manager barometer, which the personnel consultancy Odgers Berndtson creates exclusively in cooperation with the Handelsblatt once a year, regularly shows that leadership is anything but a dream job for many managers.

Many managers lack fun and sense

According to the survey, just over 55 percent stated that they enjoy their job as a manager. 52 percent see a sense in their managerial role or corporate purpose. Conversely, this means that almost half of the managers lack this usefulness.

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“Management is becoming more and more individual, situational and demanding,” explains Markus Trost, partner at Odgers Berndtson and head of the manager barometer. “The constantly evolving demands on customer needs make it necessary, for example, to be more agile and to continually adjust intermediate goals.”

This is perceived as particularly stressful by executives when the basic motivation in the company is already at a low level “and therefore management performance must be permanently invested in the motivation,” says Trost.

More: Gallup CEO Jim Clifton: “A manager can lead a maximum of ten people”

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This is how expensive climate neutrality is for companies in Europe

Dusseldorf For the freshly chosen BP-Chef Bernard Looney was the first public appearance in his new position a breeze. After months of demonstrations by angry activists outside the company’s headquarters in London, the oil company’s former downstream manager was allowed to say things that his predecessor Bob Dudley would never have said.

“We have to change. Starting today, our primary goal will be to provide the world with clean, reliable, and affordable energy, ”said Looney just two weeks ago when the new strategy was launched in London. And it has it all: the fossil energy giant wants to be completely climate neutral by 2050. This includes the CO2 emissions that ultimately result from the combustion in the consumer’s tank.

An oil company is becoming carbon neutral? With this in mind, the BP boss caused a sensation. But he is not alone with his plan. Large European companies are currently announcing ambitious climate targets almost every week. From 2030 or 2040, everyone has undertaken to emit less and secondly only as much CO2 as they can avoid elsewhere.

A few days ago, media company Bertelsmann announced that it would achieve this goal by 2030 Microsoft plans climate neutrality for the same year, as well as pharmaceutical and chemical companies Bavarian, Bosch even wants to work CO2-neutral this year. Markus Steilemann, CEO of the chemical company, observes across the entire industry Covestro, started a real competition for climate goals.

The announcements of the past few months have brought together a huge amount of promises. A current study by the renowned non-profit organization Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) available to Handelsblatt shows that, according to their new plans, European companies want to avoid 2.4 gigatons of emissions – more than the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Poland combined annually emit.

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The British CDP is considered a leader in the analysis of corporate environmental data, with more than 600 institutional investors behind the organization. In the study, the experts, together with the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, took a closer look at the climate plans of over 882 listed companies in Europe.

The result: To achieve the goals, companies are already investing billions in new, low-carbon technologies and in investments to reduce emissions. The CDP puts the total across Europe at 124 billion euros, of which 44 billion euros are accounted for by German companies. That seems like a lot, but it is far from enough to achieve the EU’s goal of climate neutrality in Europe from 2050.

To do this, European companies would have to double their investments in CO2 reduction, the study says. Because that would push many to the limits of what is financially feasible, Steven Tebbe, Managing Director of CDP Europe, sees politicians and donors as a duty: “For industries where carbon dioxide reduction is a greater challenge, financial markets and policy makers need to do better Create conditions for low-carbon investments. “

Others doubt whether companies can achieve their goals. “On the one hand, we are happy about every step in the right direction. On the other hand, when you take a closer look, you unfortunately notice that many policies are mostly hot air or change too little and too late, ”says Heffa Schücking, director of the climate protection organization Urgewald.

In their view, there are often no concrete intermediate steps or reliable data. “What good is climate neutrality by 2040 if there is an immediate need for immediate action?” Asks Schücking. RWE wants to become climate neutral by 2040, but will not switch off the last lignite power plant until 2038. “We won’t stop climate change that way.”

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After all, the announcement of BP marks a turning point. The company is the first in its industry to set itself the goal of achieving a zero carbon footprint within 30 years. For BP alone, this involves 415 million tons of CO2 per year. Competitor had Shell already announced last year that it would halve its CO2 emissions by 2050, but BP is now going one step further.

The big tech groups are also aiming for climate neutrality. However, they have it easy compared to oil or energy companies. Most of the CO2 is generated here by the energy consumption of the data centers. So coincide Google. Facebook. Apple and Co. increasingly with green electricity.

In four years, Amazon wants to get 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In 2030, the internet retailer wants to switch completely to green electricity and become climate neutral ten years later. While the Internet giants can buy their green conscience, it is much more difficult for industrial groups like BP.

BP, Shell or also Thyssen-Krupp do not suddenly stop producing carbon dioxide. Especially not if, like the oil companies, they continue to promote fossil fuels.
For this reason, there is fierce criticism from environmentalists about the publicly effective climate targets of fossil polluters.

“BP cannot spend $ 71 billion on developing new oil and gas fields this year and then claim to no longer emit CO2 by 2050,” said Niklas Schinerl, Greenpeace energy expert. Schinerl considers it more than unlikely that the energy group will achieve its goals. “So far it’s been a nice announcement, but unfortunately without substance.”

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