In fact, broadcasting director Peter Kuipers wants to talk about his own club this Wednesday, the KRO-NCRV. Anyone who tunes in to the programs of this merger broadcaster can see: the broadcaster – with more than 400,000 members – has had a new identity since the beginning of September. The logo – a circle made up of three colors – is accompanied by a new story.
For two years, the director asked friend and foe: why does society give us more than 80 million euros every year? Do we actually deserve that? In the end, Kuipers arrived at three key words: the KRO-NCRV stands for a world that can be fairer, greener and nicer. The slogan: ‘Join tomorrow’. “In doing so, we remain in our hundred-year-old Christian-social tradition, but we also show that we are focused on the future.” Does that mean anything to its members? “Sometimes not right away, but when I tell them we care about their children and grandchildren, then always.”
But while he explains how these terms return in the programming, current events seep in. Because since the broadcast of afternoon program Unheard of News, on Thursday September 15, it is almost nothing else in Hilversum. Presenter Raisa Blommestijn spoke in a provocative way about alleged “blankophobia” that would make it impossible to discuss “reverse racism”. The violence in the videos shown to support her argument did not appear to have a racist motive in any of the four cases. “This was apparent from research by our Pointer program,” says the director proudly.
Statements, no consequences
In her tirade, Blommestijn used the n-word several times and was not contradicted by her guests, MP Pepijn van Houwelingen (FvD) and professor Paul Cliteur (Leiden University).
The broadcast soon led to a series of condemnatory statements, the NPO spoke of a limit that would have been reached. However, the broadcast remained without consequences for the time being.
State Secretary Gunay Uslu (D66, Media) insisted on a decision by the Media Commission (CvdM) and the Ombudsman of the NPO, who reported at the end of last weekend that they had already received almost 1,700 complaints. On the advice of these authorities, it could issue a second sanction against the broadcaster and eventually withdraw the broadcasting concession.
This broadcaster damages the NPO
Kuipers was also in all states when seeing the broadcast. And it has been grinding in his head ever since. He now calls on the State Secretary not to wait any longer and to revoke the broadcasting license of the aspiring broadcaster with immediate effect. “What is now needed is what was lacking at the entrance of Ongehoord Nederland: administrative courage, at the ministry and the management of the public broadcaster. We can wait for another report, demand apologies and rectifications or come up with another sanction. But if we are honest, then we know enough.”
He himself is also in the garden, he admits. “Minister Slob, the NPO, but also we as fellow directors thought: with two penetrating conversations in advance and a signature of director Karskens under the journalistic code, we dare. But nothing shows the intention to keep to agreements. In doing so, this broadcaster harms the NPO.”
Also read:Rain of complaints after broadcasting ON. Can everything be said?
After the offending broadcast of September 15, Kuipers texted his fellow broadcaster Karskens. “This is not an opinion, I told him, this is journalistic rubbish. Pure dredge.” He then joined the indignant statements of his fellow directors. “But it cannot just be with words of disapproval, after which we return to the order of the day. That’s how it goes within our own organization: if an employee breaks the rules here, I call him and he first receives a royal admonition. If someone does that again, they will be banned.”
Citizens in a pinch
KRO-NCRV is the first broadcaster to speak out in favor of an immediate departure of ON from the system. Is he calling on his colleagues to rally behind him? “That’s up to them, I can’t make that decision for them.” Asked for a response, Arnold Karskens sent a short message this Wednesday NRC: “We live in a democracy and broadcaster Ongehoord Nederland neatly interprets the opinion of many people.”
Incidentally, Kuipers emphasizes, if it comes from a departure from the system, that does not make him happy. “I had hoped that Ongehoord Nederland would be a success. That would mean that we as NPO would finally reach a target group that we just don’t know how to reach at the moment.”
KRO-NCRV does try to do that, by the way. The ‘unheard of’ citizen is called ‘the citizen in the pinch’ on his broadcaster. “Our journalistic branch has made this a spearhead. For example, we are currently in Almelo for three weeks with a pop-up editor. Then we go to Heerlen.”
It turns out to be a personal matter for the former TROS director. “As someone who originally comes from the Frisian countryside, I have a thing for farmers and their way of life. I understand them well. At the same time, I also see: things will have to change with agriculture. But we have to go there together. We do this, for example, by viewers of our most watched program farmer seeks wife to seduce also to Inside out about sustainable living.”
If Ongehoord Nederland is out of the system, the system must be reformed, so that no new broadcasters are ready to join in the future. Kuipers is not reassured: “After one report and two recommendations on this, the State Secretary has already ordered a new report on new admission criteria this summer. After that, both Chambers have to find something about it again. Before you know it, we’ll be late again and we’ll have to wait another five years. While: the order is just full. It must remain manageable here.”
Supplement (September 22, 2022): After publication, this article has been supplemented with the response of Arnold Karskens.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of September 23, 2022