Top Dutch television presenter accused of transgressive behavior by dozens of colleagues
A long line of former colleagues and coworkers came forward to accuse television presenter Matthijs van Nieuwkerk of transgressive behavior. More than 50 former employees of his acclaimed show, De Wereld Draait Door (DWDD), spoke to De Volkskrant in an article published on Friday evening. As a result of the article, the much anticipated end-of-year television show, Top2000 Quiz with Matthijs van Nieuwkerk, was cancelled.
According to the employees, these were "extreme outbursts of anger and public humiliation.” Dozens of employees wound up taking leave due to the working conditions. For years, Van Nieuwkerk was one of the highest paid presenters within NPO, the Dutch public broadcasting system.
NPO said in a response to the article that this should never have happened. "We are also extremely shocked by the large number of employees who have had negative and anxious experiences during their work on the DWDD program and also by the fact that some are still suffering from this," the NPO stated on its website.
Van Nieuwkerk told the newspaper that he was deeply regretful of the role he played in creating a poor work environment at DWDD. The 62-year-old presenter said that he regrets that he "wasn't able to give everyone a safe and pleasant feeling" and that he was sorry, according to the newspaper.
"Now we are faced with a number of uncomfortable things that have been done.” He implied he can still look himself in the mirror, adding he can’t turn back the clock. He acknowledged the comments were thought-provoking and he is giving them consideration.
However, Van Nieuwkerk called the Volkskrant article "at the same time a draconian caricature of fifteen years of DWDD.” He said, "Certainly, I was fanatical, stubborn and strict. And I could occasionally have an ugly reaction.” Van Nieuwkerk said it was as if he was portrayed as being in an “Eternal Tantrum” and that he doesn’t think that was the case.
The NPO has spoken to the show’s broadcaster, BNNVARA, about the matter and said, "We understand from BNNVARA that they are doing everything possible to prevent this kind of thing in the future and that they carefully deal with the interests of the employees who have been involved in this."
NPO director Frans Klein also responded to Van Nieuwkerk's over-the-line behavior in an interview with the Volkskrant. He said he knew nothing about it, despite some warnings which reached his desk. "Of course I now think: has it not gone too far in some areas?"
Klein admits that things were sometimes "heavy" behind the scenes of the television program DWDD. "Of course we ran the risk of some people getting a little too ground up in this situation. We tried to pay attention to that in our way. In retrospect maybe not enough. I think we were willing to go too far then because of the personality of who carried the program, like, ‘We will build a program around you that makes you feel as comfortable as possible.’"
The recordings of the upcoming Top2000 Quiz were to be take place on Saturday, according to the spokeswoman of another public broadcaster, NTR. But, "After the publication of the Volkskrant article and the dynamics that this generates, we have to conclude that today is not the right day to record a festive quiz," she stated.
"That is why we have decided not to allow the recordings of the Top2000 Quiz to continue. This decision was made in consultation with Matthijs and the NPO."
Reporting by ANP