NOS apologizes for bullying, intimidation and discrimination at Sport division
Dutch public broadcaster NOS acknowledged the incidents of transgressive behavior reported by NOS Sport workers, and apologized for it. The broadcaster's director, Gerard Timmer, offered the apology after the conclusion of the organizations' investigation into reports of workplace behavior that was over the line. A further investigation by the Volkskrant will also be published soon.
The staff of NOS Sport was informed about the outcome on Thursday afternoon. Over time, the management of NOS Sport including its editors-in-chief, will step down to make way for a change in culture. They will take a "step back in phases, so that changes can be implemented while at the same time guaranteeing continuity and production at NOS Sport."
The detailed study contains reports of bullying, intimidation, sexual intimidation, discrimination, verbal aggression and integrity issues over a period of more than twenty years. There are also reports that relate to the culture of the sports editors. In recent years, the focus has been "too much" on the end product "and not enough on the human aspect. That has led to a culture in which this behavior could take place." It also turned out that employees did not always feel that action was being taken when a report was made. That is why the NOS is now offering training courses so that managers can identify undesirable behavior.
Last December it became clear that an "external inventory" would be made after reports about possible transgressive behavior. Following an article in de Volkskrant about abuse behind the scenes of top television show De Wereld Draait Door, the editor-in-chief of NOS Sport called on employees to step forward if they had experienced undesirable behavior. Several reports came in. These were reports from the past, but also from more recent periods, the broadcaster said at the time. Over the past few months, two external confidential advisers have mapped out and analyzed the reports.
The management of the NOS is following the advice of the confidential advisers and entering into discussions with those involved. The NOS also offers employees "professional guidance" if they need it, and the existing policy with regard to reporting transgressive behavior is being "evaluated and improved" to make it possible for people with issues to be taken more seriously.
More details from behind the scenes
The Volkskrant will publish its own investigation into the working atmosphere at NOS Sport in the near future. The newspaper spoke to more than thirty current and former employees about reports of transgressive behavior that occurred when they were working there. Several contacted the newspaper because they felt as if they kept running into walls internally for some time, and that "reports of misconduct remained unreported."
Some of the issues about leaders at NOS Sport were known by the newspaper for some time, but more sources emerged after the newspaper's article about abuse at De Wereld Draait Door.
Sources told the Volkskrant that "dozens of reports" were received recently by the external confidential advisers at NOS. These include abuse of power, sexual harassment, transgressive behavior and bullying at the hands of presenters and managers. There were also many complaints about "a poorly functioning editor-in-chief." The editors-in-chief "neglected" the reports for years and are therefore responsible for the "toxic culture," according to de Volkskrant.
Secretary of State Gunay Uslu for Culture and Media said the issue fits a pattern "Here, too, people have felt unsafe, had to work under rotten conditions." According to the state secretary, signs were not noticed in time and she called it "terrible" that NOS employees have had these experiences.
"It is very confrontational, very sad, but apparently it is also necessary for it to escalate a bit and come up in this way."
Reporting by ANP