Broadcasters: something must be done quickly with ON, after ’embarrassing’ broadcast

However critical and indignant the broadcasters are about the broadcast of fellow broadcaster ON on September 15, they do not agree with the statement of the director of KRO-NCRV, Peter Kuipers, in NRC that ON must be immediately removed from the order. Instead, they are urging State Secretary Gunay Uslu (Media, D66), the NPO and the Media Authority to speak out quickly on the issue and take any necessary measures.

ON caused a wave of criticism last week by broadcasting the program Unheard of News alleged to address “racist aggression” by black people against white people. A series of videos was shown in which a black man repeatedly beat up a white man or woman. According to an investigation by Pointer (KRO-NCRV), there is no evidence that there was a racist motive. The n-word was also used several times in the ON broadcast.

Also read: Director KRO-NCRV wants Ongehoord Nederland immediately out of the system: “This is pure journalistic scum”

“This was pure racism,” says Jan Slagter, director of Omroep MAX. “ON has disqualified me. But do they have to be immediately removed from the order? That is not up to the directors of broadcasters, but up to the State Secretary and the Media Authority. I’m finally expecting a decision. I honestly thought that the group that feels unheard of in the Netherlands would get a voice in the system with ON – and that’s the best way to push the boundaries. But they have crossed the border, this is not acceptable.”

EO director Arjan Lock, who is also chairman of the Board of Broadcasters (in which all national broadcasters have a seat), says that he senses indignation among all broadcasters. “First: It cannot be the case that discriminatory or racist expressions are made under the flag of the NPO. And two: we would adhere to the journalistic code. If you broadcast five videos under the guise of wanting to show black racism, and the first investigation shows that there was no connection with racism, then you are breaking the code.

“Something has to happen. And I completely sympathize with what Kuipers says. But: diversity is also a great asset. And that requires careful action before you use big words like: this broadcaster must be removed from the system immediately. Because it is not just about this one case, but also about other cases in the future. Do you want something completely different going on, and people say: that sound has to stop, which can also be said: directly from the order?

The Media Authority is investigating the matter and has informed the ANP that it expects to be ready in the second quarter of next year.

Also read: Rain of complaints after broadcasting ON. Can everything be said?

Lennart van der Meulen, director of the VPRO, also believes that it is not up to the broadcasters to put ON on hold. “If other broadcasters were to say that VPRO should be removed from the system because of a controversial documentary, I would also find that terrible. That is not so much a question of collegiality, but of freedom of expression. We think the racist expressions at ON and the fomenting of prejudices are the worst. You can file a complaint against that, but that is not in the way of the VPRO.”

Van der Meulen points out that in addition to removing ON from the order, there is also a less far-reaching alternative. “The NPO can also say: we no longer place this program on the broadcast schedule. That is always possible.”

No Black Pete news

Just this Friday, the NPO confirmed that another ON program, the alternative Sinterklaas newswith the title Black Pete Journal, will not be shown on television this year. In the Black Pete Journalwhich was broadcast on YouTube last year, the Pieten are painted black, while the NPO has decided together with NTR for a number of years. Sinterklaas news broadcast in which no black Petes can be seen anymore.

“This can go two ways,” says NTR director Willemijn Francissen about the recent fuss about ON. “Unheard of Netherlands is out of the order. Or Ongehoord Nederland will adhere to the agreements and remain within the framework. The latter is clearly my preference, but I find it difficult to be hopeful about that.

Also read: NPO wants to impose sanction on Ongehoord Nederland after Ombudsman report

“ON has been given a place in the system because it represents a group that otherwise would not feel heard by the public broadcaster, while as an important institution within democracy we are expected to let everyone have their say. But discrimination, racism, insults and hate speech are simply not allowed, especially not within public broadcasting. We are ashamed that this happened.”

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