No hearing with VRT leadership in Flemish Parliament after new uproar

The VRT leadership does not have to answer to the Flemish Parliament. Pressure mounted after the Flemish Public Broadcaster was again discredited on Thursday over possible government interference in its programming.

Flemish public broadcaster VRT has been in the eye of the storm in recent weeks. Its decision to postpone the documentary about TV maker Bart De Pauw (convicted of stalking and electronic nuisance) and the documentary ‘Godvergeten’ (about abuse in the church) was widely criticised. There were also allegations of toxic leadership in the news service's youth editorial. On Thursday, VRT came under fire again. This time over alleged government interference in programming.

A series in the making at VRT on innovation and science supposedly came about in consultation with the cabinet of Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon, which was also responsible for funding. It created the perception that the Flemish government was imposing hefty cuts on VRT, but freeing up money for content that put them in a good light. Flemish Media Minister Benjamin Dalle said in a reaction that there is no indication of political interference in VRT programmes.

This new incident was the ideal opportunity for the Media Committee of the Flemish Parliament to make another attempt to summon the VRT leadership to give an explanation for the fuss of the past weeks. Opposition parties Groen (Flemish Greens) and Vooruit (Flemish Socialists) have been pressing for this for some time. Majority party N-VA (centre-right) and opposition party Vlaams Belang (far-right), however, remained absent on Friday for an extra session of the Media Committee, which meant there was no quorum and thus no vote on the demand for a hearing.

In a reaction, Groen and Vooruit said they were very disappointed that the request was again not granted.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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