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Satire Varoufakis video wins top German TV prize

March 9, 2016

German comedian Jan Böhmermann claimed he faked a middle finger gesture by Greece's former finance minister. He actually didn't, but showed how easy media can be manipulated. His dupe has won a top TV award.

ARD: Günther Jauch
Image: I&U TV Produktion GmbH & Co. KG/dpa

For a few days last year, German TV viewers were pretty confused. On a Sunday in March, public television aired an allegedly doctored image of then Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis giving Germans the "Stinkefinger," or the middle finger, over the terms of his country's financial bailout.

Four days later, broadcaster ZDF announced that satirical news host Jan Böhmermann had faked the video, which had swiftly gone viral. In it, Böhmermann claimed that his "Neo Magazin Royale" program had manipulated a two-year-old video allegedly showing Varoufakis waving the "Stinkefinger." The video included footage of the show's research team "doctoring" a 2013 speech given by Varoufakis in Croatia.

However, ZDF later said in a statement that it was only seeking to show - satirically - how easily the footage could have been doctored.

This week, it was announced that Böhmermann's little media lesson has won a Grimme Prize in the entertainment category.

'Deutschland 83,' 'Marhaba' also honored

Among the other winners announced Wednesday was the television series "Deutschland 83," which concerns the role played by Germany in 1983 during the Cold War - and tells the personal story of a young spy. "Deutschland 83" is the first German-language series to air on a US network, Sundance TV.

German TV host Constantin Schreiber was also recognized for his series "Marhaba," which he hosts in Arabic focusing on topics relevant to asylum seekers in Germany. The series, which has German subtitles, is the first produced exclusively for the web to win a Grimme.

In total, 76 productions have been chosen from 800 entries. The Grimmes will be presented on April 8 in Marl.

kbm/cmk (dpa, kna)