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Also ‘The morning’ against payment on location

‘The morning’ on Radio 1, a program of the VRT news service, broadcasts sometimes live on location at events and ask the organizers of those events to contribute to the costs. According to the VRT brings that journalistic independence is not compromised.

That different radio programs of the VRT charge to be on location to broadcast, such as earlier this week it was revealed, came all on any misunderstanding, also in the political world. The VRT hushing when that it is the responsibility of the public broadcaster belongs to ‘come out’ and ‘to have contact with the public”, that it was to be ‘co-productions’ in which the expenses were shared, and that programs such as The madammen on Radio 2, Culture club on Radio 1 or Pompidou on Klara no programs of the VRT-news service, making the journalistic ethics of the public service broadcaster is not compromised.

Today writes in The Morning for The morning on Radio 1 this practice is common. The past year was that program at least three times live on location, where the organisers of the event in question contributed to the production costs.

VRT reacts

VRT spokesman Bob Vermeir light the examples. ‘In June, at the start of the festival Antwerp Baroque 2018, a live broadcast from the MAS in Antwerp. In 2017, there was a live broadcast from the ‘Boekentoren’ in Ghent, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the University of Ghent. in 2017, day on day, 25 years after the closure of the mine in the Attic, there was a live broadcast with politicians Zuhal Demir and Meryame Kitir, who testified about their fathers in the mines worked.’

The morning is a program of the news service, but the journalistic independence comes under Vermeir never compromised. “We want to be very formal: The Morning is in full autonomy created by the news service, which never makes arrangements with third parties over the content of these programs. The news service works with separated budgets and teams, and is not even on the level of possible re-invoicing of costs of production.’

“It’s important to the way in which the VRT works well to understand”, says Vermeir. “The role of our naval cipher areas in Flanders to be present where things happen that matter. Therefore, stations such as Radio 1 sometimes partnerships with local organizations to make that presence possible. Radio 1 provides the production support and framework of such a broadcast on location with the public. Radio 1 is always in the technique, the musical staff, artists, the decor and the reception of the audience. The role of our news service is becoming to independent and critical journalism within our programs.’

In The Morning, give the concerned organisers that that is correct, ‘though you may of course assume that your event is covered if you have such a live broadcast.”

Vermeir: ‘The Morning would be the day we pay great attention to the mentioned events. It is thanks to Radio 1 and broadcast on location, with staff and live music that the event is more impact, and for a larger experience made in Flanders. I repeat: the news service is not in any way involved in the agreement around the means of production.’

The outside world responds

Pol Deltour, national secretary of the professional association of journalists (VVJ) is that what easy. “I have the impression that the VRT in this file still in denial about,” he says. ‘It is not because a practice for years on the corridor is not strictly illegal, that they are not objectionable. They do this is what easy as “sharing the cost”, but any kind of journalism costs money. The newspapers questions don’t money to a journalist to a press conference to send?’

‘Even though the ethics are not really in danger, ” says Deltour, ‘you generates allows at least the impression that it is. You’ll soon on a slippery slope. The public broadcaster should always be the best student of the class, and that is clearly not the case here.’

The political reactions are rather moderate. “I refuse to believe that the VRT news service, a march would take with the journalistic ethics,” says Katia Segers, media specialist SP.A. “And also, many other media are in the gray zone by partnerships with external partners. That has been the case. But it remains, of course, so that the VRT has set an example, so, there must be full transparency about the practice.’

Bart Caron (Green), the chairman of the mediacommissie in the Flemish Parliament, is not entirely surprised. “I would find it a pity if radio programs, including the news service, not more of on location broadcasting. The examples given bumping me against the chest. If it is necessary to production costs with the organisers to share it to that live broadcast, I find that no problem. The condition is, however, that there is total transparency and that the real costs of production, and not a disguised form of income. In addition, there must be one hundred percent editorial freedom and the choice to go from location to transmit pure journalism. Therefore, I argue for a better system where the VRT transparent reports about this kind of events and how they come about. In addition to cultural or artistic events, never commercial, such as construction or automobile.’

Just for that reason, Caron is more concerned about Radio 2. “I have, in the meantime, several examples of correspondence in my mailbox and received between the makers of the VRT and partners where they work. In some of these is the VRT a complete package offered. Editorial attention, and commercials for the event or the organization are also part of the deal. Then we speak no more about production costs. Much can I think be solved with a transparent communication. If it should be communicated, they’re less likely to overstep. In addition, it is also clear for the listener.’

“There should also be transparency about what exactly is income happens, adds Wilfried Vandaele (N-VA) to add. ‘Is that a lump-broekzakoperatie? Is there a profit? Be that revenue is recognized as advertising revenues using the advertising agency VAR, as it should be? The VRT is a ceiling imposed on advertising revenue, I hope that this kind of techniques are used for that rule to work.’

Vandaele interpelleert on this soon, minister of Media Sven Gatz. That has been an investigation announced, and would rather not respond to all the information of the VRT has been given.

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