Media minister defends VRT CEO after controversy over De Pauw documentary

Following controversy around a VRT documentary about TV personality Bart De Pauw, Flemish Media minister Benjamin Dalle has said the CEO of the public broadcaster can stay on in his role.

In 2017, 13 women came forward with complaints of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour against producer, comedian and actor De Pauw. He was found guilty of stalking and given a six-month suspended prison sentence in 2021.

In the three-part documentary, Het Proces dat Niemand Wou ("The trial that nobody wanted"), several women recount their experiences with De Pauw. He was asked to tell his side of the story, but refused to cooperate.

Earlier this month, VRT CEO Frederik Delaplace decided to withdraw the documentary from its schedule on the grounds that De Pauw was about to make a public apology. However, following widespread complaints, VRT announced this week that it would air the programme after all.

Dalle says there had been contact with some of the women involved prior to the decision to cancel the broadcast, but not all of them and "late in the process".

'Serious error of judgement'

This week, some 200 people from the cultural sector sent an open letter to Dalle, criticising VRT's "unilateral" decision to suspend the documentary. The signatories, who included actors, TV directors and a number of members of the civil service, also accused Delaplace of "playing both sides".

VRT then announced that the programme would be broadcast - with the first episode due to air on Wednesday evening - and apologised for a "serious error of judgement".

"I think he and his team have tried to reconcile with the best of intentions ... the women involved were not listened to enough"

"This was not a good episode for VRT," Dalle told Radio 1 on Wednesday. However, "I think [Delaplace] and his team have tried to reconcile with the best of intentions, with sincere apologies. It's just that the women involved were not listened to enough."

By reinstating the documentary, VRT hopes to "restore trust" and ensure that conciliation talks between the victims and De Pauw - which have now begun - can continue peacefully.


#FlandersNewsService | Bart De Pauw (left) during his trial in October 2021 © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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