Far-right broadcaster slapped with second fine in a year, putting license at risk
The NPO imposed its second sanction in a year on broadcaster Ongehoord Nederland (ON!) It concerns a fine of 56,065.45 euros. The Dutch public broadcasting system, known by the acronym NPO, believes that the young broadcaster has "not complied with the legal obligation to cooperate in the performance of the public media mission since its entry into the public system."
The broadcaster did not act in accordance with public values and does not meet the high standards of journalistic quality, the NPO said. ON! said it will appeal against the sanction imposed against them.
In the event of repeated violations, the NPO has the option of submitting a request to the relevant state secretary to consider withdrawing ON!'s provisional recognition as a public broadcaster, effectively cutting them out of the system. The NPO is not yet doing this. "At the moment, the focus is on ON! complying with the rules," a spokesperson said.
State Secretary Gunay Uslu for culture and media policy did not want to comment substantively about the fine. Her spokesperson did say that if there is a request to withdraw the provisional recognition, then "if necessary and relevant, we will enter into discussions with the parties involved and experts." A decision could then determine if ON! remains in the system, or is forced out, in which case it would be the first time that a broadcaster's license has been revoked.
The second penalty is equivalent to 1.5 percent of the ON! established annual budget for the year 2022. When determining the sanction, it was taken into account that ON! is an aspiring broadcaster, a sanction has already been imposed against them, and that ON! - despite the budgetary deduction - must reasonably remain able to carry out its mission.
According to the NPO, the actions of Ongehoord Nederland have an "enormous negative impact on the integrity and reputation of public broadcasting." The NPO said it has addressed the broadcaster several times about complying with the rules, but ON! does not change, according to the NPO. The organization overseeing the public broadcasters accused ON! of freely misinterpreting the rules "at its own discretion," saying the rules apply to all broadcasters under NPO.
The chair of Ongehoord Nederland, Arnold Karskens, confirmed to ANP that ON! will appeal against the sanction. The broadcaster issued a response saying it properly adheres to cooperation within the NPO "through active participation in all consultations." The controversial broadcaster said that it was all the other broadcasters who do not wish to collaborate with them.
The broadcaster also believes that the sanction shows that the NPO opposes a free press with diverse positions in the Netherlands. ON! called the sanction "unjustified and inappropriate."
At the end of November, the Ombudsman issued a second report stating that the broadcaster still violates the Journalistic Code of the NPO on various points, for example when it comes to reliability. In January, the NPO will issue a response to that report. ON! may produce new broadcasts on the NPO channels as of January, provided that ON! reports to the NPO every two months about how the broadcaster has implemented the recommendations made by the Ombudsman in its June report.
Reporting by ANP