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West German Television Broadcast Wrong New Year’s Speech

January 1, 1987

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ The West German government today demanded an apology from a television network that mistakenly broadcast last year’s New Year’s address by Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The Kohl administration was ″scandalized″ by the incident, the government press office said in a statement.

But the opposition Social Democrats said officials were getting too worked up about the matter and claimed the chancellor’s New Year’s speeches tend to sound alike anyway.

″Happy New Year, 1986,″ Kohl told the nation in the taped speech aired by West Germany’s ARD television network Wednesday evening.

The network televised the full 10 minutes of the wrong speech, during which the chancellor talked about the superpower summit in Geneva, which took place in November 1985, and various legislation passed by Parliament that year.

Later Wednesday, ARD broadcast its regrets for the ″mix-up″ and said it would show the proper speech tonight.

But the government press office demanded an apology and punitive action by the network against those responsible for the mistake.

The press office statement said the incident was ″an insult to all those watching, who expect enough care from ARD that the current recording of the New Year’s speech would be sent.″

The statement said chief government spokesman Friedhelm Ost ″assumes that ARD will apologize for this incident, which cannot be explained by technical failure, and that those in ARD who are responsible for this incident will be called to account for it.″

Kohl, a Christian Democrat, saw the broadcast at his home in Oggersheim, and ″his reaction was correspondingly harsh,″ government spokeswoman Ursula Knupper-Heger said.

″I noticed something was wrong right away when he didn’t have on the same suit″ that he wore for the 1987 address, she said.

Guenther Verheugen, a spokesman for the Social Democrats, commented: ″The chancellor’s New Year’s message for 1987 avoided the country’s real problems, just like the one in 1986 did.″

The correct speech was broadcast by the other network, ZDF. In both addresses, the chancellor was seated at a desk.

A television market research organization said today more people watched the wrong address than the right one.

In the 1987 speech, Kohl stressed the unity of the German nation, traditional family values, and environmental protection.

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