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What can I do if untruths about me are circulating in the media?

If untruths about you are published in the media, you can defend yourself: You have the “right of reply.”

The answer in detail

What can I do if untruths about me are circulating in the media?

What is meant by “reply” in this instance?

A reply is when you defend yourself against a representation of facts in a periodically published medium (newspaper, radio, TV, Internet publication) with your own version.

When can I enforce this right?

If you are directly affected by a representation of facts in a media report and the factual claim is directly related to your person. The claim must also have been circulated in a periodically published medium.

Can I also issue a reply to a value judgment or a personal opinion?

No. This is because you cannot reply to such reports with an objective explanation, as it relates only to an insult or an opinion.

How does the reply need to be worded?

It must be brief, precise, and straightforward. As a rule of thumb: “You can put things another way, but not say any other things.” The text should also be as concise as possible. The longer the factual claim is, the more detailed the reply can be, too. It may not contain any obviously incorrect or indecent content. It may only have the title “reply.” This must be followed by an exact description of the claim it is responding to and then the reply personally signed by the affected person.

How can I submit my reply?

The reply text must be submitted within 20 days of discovery of the claim, and by no later than three months after the date of publication at the latest. To ensure you do not have to prove the time of discovery at a later date, we recommend you issue the text within 20 days of the date of publication.
The medium must inform the affected person immediately (i.e. within three to seven days) when the reply will be published or why it has been rejected. 

Where and when must the reply be published?

The reply must be published as quickly as possible, at a place where the same interest group can be best reached. It cannot be hidden on the second-to-last page of a newspaper.

What happens if the medium does not publish the reply?

In such instances, the affected person can take the case to court.

We have provided a sample letter to the media for download below.

Important documents
Briefvorlage Gegendarstellungsrecht